Prof. Roann Barris

office 202 Porterfield

phone: 831- 6001


visit the Complete Syllabus


I. Introduction

Reading and activities:

•    online introductory essay

•    Textbook introduction and chapter 1

•    Begin watching “An introduction to the Italian Renaissance” – streaming video in the library. This movie provides a reenactment of Giorgio Vasari talking about the Renaissance to his apprentice. It is very funny and not entirely accurate. As you watch and as you read your textbook, look for contradictions – how is the movie “traditional” in a way that prevents it from communicating historically accurate undertandings of the Renaissance? How does it reinforce our more stereotypical (or popular) understandings of the Renaissance?

•    When you have watched the entire movie (it is only 29 minutes long) and done enough reading in the text to answer the above questions, write a one-page review of the movie. Do not review the acting, plot, costumes, etc – focus on the content. For all written assignments, please work in Microsoft Word and send me your work as an attachment to an email. Due (ideally) no later than Dec. 24. (I understand that Christmas may intervene and you will be late with this assignment but it should not take too long.)

II. The Trecento Inheritance

Reading and activities:

•    continue with chapter 1
•    online Slideshow/lecture: origins of the Renaissance
•    Focus: 1) the relationship between Giotto and his patron; Giotto as innovator
        2) differences between Sienese and Florentine art

III. Revival, imitation or rivalry? Competitions versus imitation

•    Text, chapters 2 and 3; see also pp 93-94

•    online slide show and discussion in D2L
Florence After the Plague (illustrated written discussion of similar material)

•    Activity: begin compiling your personal image book (powerpoint). Focus on altarpieces that show similarities to Gentile da Fabriano’s Coronation of the Virgin. (See page 85). In your analysis of the three images you find, consider their relationship to the art of Sienna and the art of Giotto. Which appears to be a bigger influence on Gentile’s style (and related work)? How does the Gentile style differ from both Sienese art and Giotto’s art? In your powerpoint, make sure you have a complete identification of each art work you choose, try to determine who commissioned it (sometimes this information is included in Artstor but not always so it may require some searching), and where the art work lived (in the Renaissance). Send me your work as an ongoing project and I will give you feedback as your work on it. Due: no later than Dec. 28.

IV. Naturalism, perspective and the viewer

Reading and activities:
•    chapters 4 and 5
•    online reading materials (the Brancacci Chapel); Brunelleschi's churches; and slide show in D2L (Perspective in Painting and Architecture)
•    Experiential activity: draw the room you are working in. Do not use mathematical perspective. Draw the room again, but try to use accurately measured linear perspective. Compare your results. Do not show them to anyone but try to determine the advantages – and disadvantages – of using perspective. Write a brief page summarizing your experience. Share this summary with me: by Jan. 1. [Happy new year!]

Check D2L for a Test Yourself activity on the first few units. And don't forget to use Artstor!

V. Human nature and the study of anatomy

Reading and activities:
•    chapters 9 and 12
•    online reading and D2L slide show on anatomy and the artist;
What is Naturalism? (the natural and the spiritual) [slide show in D2L]
•    Activity: Continue working on your image notebook. Add three images demonstrating the changes that occur in the use of perspective in the 15th century. In your analyses, consider the influence of perspective on anatomical representations. Due: Jan. 4

V. a.  "Conventional" (survey-style) Approaches to the Big 4 (Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Titian) [don't be afraid to critique these more conventional approaches -- how does  your textbook reframe the material?]

Raphael and Leonardo

Venetian Artists

Raphael and the Colonna Altarpiece

VI. Art for the Pope: the Sistine Chapel, the Raphael room, and the Pope's tomb

Reading and activities
•    Reading: chapters 12 and 13
•    Online reading materials; chapter by Rowland
•    Activity: using the textbook and online materials, write a 2 - 3 page comparison between Michelangelo’s work for the Chapel and Raphael’s work for the Pope’s library. Consider such elements as composition, relation of the parts to the whole (taking care to define what the “whole” is in each case), use of narrative (what is it, where does it come from, how does it guide the work), the relationship of the work to messages or propaganda desired by the patron (the Pope), the use of perspective, the use of color, how the work fits in the career of the artist. These are suggested areas for comparison; you may have other areas as well. Due: Jan. 8

Raphael and the Pope's Library (slide show in D2L)

VII. Patronage, politics and courtly values: social structures and patronage systems in Italy

Reading and activities
•    Reading: chapters 8, 15, and 7; online reading materials
•    Watch: Epitome of the Italian Renaissance: Gonzagas of Mantua (available through McConnell, link in D2L); also watch relevant sections on the Medicis in the film, Dreams of avarice: credit and interest through the ages (approximately 10 minutes are devoted to the Medicis; also in McConnell, and link in D2L)
•    Activity: add three images to your power point, with each image serving as an “icon” of a particular patron. Justify your selection in terms of its importance to the patron, the degree to which it represents the patron’s values, and its role in the patron’s overall collection of art.
•    Write a summary/synopsis of the Gonzaga movie. Try to compare the Gonzagas to the Medicis. Essay due by Jan. 11.
slide show on Medici patronage in D2L

For this unit, review things that you've read and focus on the role of the patron in the creation of the works you've already studied.  Don't forget the discussion forum in D2L.
The next example is a less familiar work by Botticelli made for a different patron than the  Medici family:

Botticelli's panel paintings about Nastagio degli Onesti

VIII. The Renaissance artist as an image-maker: an interest in the immediate real world of living people and the evolution of the portrait (slide show in D2L).

This unit focuses on the portrait but it also has a focus on women artists. Most of the readings (not in the textbook but in the articles) deal with the roles of women and women artists in the Renaissance. The files on this page will give you some background  information on portratis from both northern Europe and Italy, while the D2L slide show focuses on Italy. There is slide show on Italian women artists of the Renaissance in D2L.

Background information on  northern European art and its influence on the portrait

Women Artists of the Italian Renaissance
15th Century Portraits: Northern  European and Italian

Reading and activities
•    Reading: chapter 10 may have some relevance but online reading materials and the Garrard and King articles will be more important for this unit
•    If you have access to a library, an excellent resource is David Brown, et al., Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo’s Ginevra de’ Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women (National Gallery of Art, 2001).
•    Activity: add 3 - 5 portraits to your powerpoint; focus on differences between male and female portraits; make sure that you do not confuse the self-portrait with the portrait

Send me the installments from Units VII and VIII together, by Jan. 12.

IX. History, Literature and the Visual Arts in the Renaissance

Reading and Activities:
•    Reading: chapters 11 and 16
•    online materials (no slide show but  see the concluding essay in D2L) and the traditional survey approach to the mid-to-late 16th century
•    Activity: complete your image book with a three-way comparison between images from the beginning of the 15th century, the end of the 15th century (or beginning of the 16th) and the decade of the 1540s. Choose your images to demonstrate the changes that characterize this period of 150 years. Consider composition, subject matter, treatment of space, of the human body, location, patronage – and the role of the artist in the final determination of the image. You may need to use more than 3 images but if so, treat the images in pairs or small groups so that it is still a 3-way comparison. The complete and perfected image book will be due no later than Jan. 16.