Undergraduate Course: How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550 (HIAR10114)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||How were renaissance artworks made? Where did pigments, supports, bronze and marble come from, and how were they transformed into cultural icons like Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa? This course will take a hands-on approach to the methods and materials of renaissance art, allowing students to handle some of the more common materials in class and to use this insight to analyse objects from the period.
This is not just a course about making art, however, it will also consider how the materials used in these objects are bound up with their cultural and economic value; for example, how the advent of printing brought up new issues relating to copyright and artistic identity;how the purity of gold leaf could also be condemned as ostentation; and how the manipulation of one material into another could lead artists to be compared to alchemists, and even to God.
Instead of writing traditional essays for this course, students will work in pairs to prepare a Wikipedia-style article on an artwork/object from the period allocated to them by the course organiser; these will be presented in class for constructive criticism and, after assessment, can be uploaded to Wikipedia. The exam component will remain the same.
An introduction to Wikis, setting homework to register and log in to class wiki; Renaissance techniques "quick quiz" to see how much students already know; I will use this to influence the teaching throughout.
2. Paper and pen
How fundamental was cheap paper for the revolution in art and communication that occurred in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? What's the difference between paper and parchment? What kind of materials and working methods do they support? We will have hands on sessions with metalpoint, pen and ink, charcoal and chalks to consider why certain materials are chosen for certain jobs.
3. Theories of Design
This class will look at the practice and theory of drawing and disegno, particularly the relationship between the ideation of a composition and its execution. This will incorporate a visit to the prints and drawings room at the NGS
We'll consider the international networks of trade responsible for renaissance pigments, and consider how different shades of colours had different meanings in renaissance Italy.
5. Eggs and Oils
Another hands on session where we will compare the qualities of different media - oil, tempera and fresco - in class, and look at them on the renaissance paintings in a visit to the NGS.
6. Reading week
7. Bronze, Silver and Gold
We will look at casting techniques by sculptors, and who really made largescale renaissance bronzes - which may have been designed by artists, but were often cast by cannon or bell makers in foundries designed for cannons and other artillery. We will also consider the central role of goldsmiths in developing printmaking, and the market for small expensive precious metal objects in the renaissance home. This will include a visit to the NMS when their renaissance bronzes come back on display.
Making largescale stone sculpture has particular challenges. We will look not only at the technical approaches used by sculptors, but also the engineering problems involved in moving these enormously heavy objects into position.
The skills of woodworkers were highly prized by contemporaries, especially in making furniture for churches and domestic space, frames for paintings - which were generally more costly than the painting itself - and their innovative use of perspective in intarsia. In another hands-on session, we will consider the qualities of different types of wood and the challenges in working it.
Innovations in ceramic technique are often ignored in traditional accounts of renaissance art, yet ceramics were highly prized at the time. This class will focus on the tin-glazed terracotta Della Robbia altarpiece and majolica banqueting service at the NMS to consider how biases against coloured sculpture may have affected our understanding of renaissance art.
This will be a revision class to bring together different aspects of the course and reflect on what we have learned.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should have at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1)
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1,
Revision Session Hours 1,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||One essay - in the form of a collaborative Wikipedia article (50%)
One degree examination (50%)
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Students will
- learn how to work collaboratively through working with a partner to create an encyclopedia-type article on a wiki.
- gain an insight into how knowledge is created, strengthening their ability to evaluate sources critically.
- gain an insight into the difference between fact-based and analytical writing styles.
- understand the major materials used to create renaissance sculpture, painting, drawing and several "applied arts".
- gain an insight into the international networks of trade in the renaissance period.
- be aware of the cultural significance of the use of different materials.
- consider the impact of new processes and technologies on the development of artistic movements and genres (eg the use of paper instead of parchment, the development of printing)
- understand how and why Renaissance art looks like it does now, and how materials degrade over time.
|Appaduri, A ed. The Social Life of Things. Commodities in cultural perspective, Cambridge, 1986|
Ball, P., Bright Earth, the invention of colour, Penguin Books, 2002
Blake McHam, Sarah ed., Looking at Italian Renaissance Sculpture, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Cennino Cennini, The Craftsman's Handbook. tr. D.V. Thompson, Dover, 1962.
Cole, Michael W Cellini and the Principles of Sculpture New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002
Dunkerton, J. et al., Giotto To Dürer, Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery, National Gallery Publications, l991 (especially chapter 5, on techniques)
Eisenstein, EL The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, 1983
Jardine, L Worldly Goods, London 1996
Kirsh A. & Levenson R. Seeing Through Paintings. Physical examination in Art Historical Studies, Yale University Press, 2000.
O'Malley, Michelle and Welch, E. (eds), The Material Renaissance, Manchester University Press, 2010.
Woods, Kim, ed., Making Renaissance Art, Yale University Press, 2007.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||renaissance painting sculpture printing drawing applied arts techniques trade
|Course organiser||Dr Jill Burke
Tel: (0131 6)51 3120
|Course secretary||Mrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
© Copyright 2014 The University of Edinburgh - 12 January 2015 4:05 am