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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Sacred and Profane Painting in Quattrocento Italy (HIAR10110)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will look at fresco and panel painting in fifteenth century Italy. Through the work of leading painters such as Masaccio, Pisanello, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, Botticelli and Giovanni Bellini, secular subject matter (Pisanello's Arthurian cycle, Botticelli's mythologies, Mantegna's Triumphs of Caesar) will be considered within the context of the dominance of religious themes and patronage. Secular subject matter will be scrutinised not only in relation to the changing taste of cultured elites but also in the rise of domestic space (particularly patronage associated with marriage), the modern state (civic and princely patronage), and the individual (the emergence of portraiture). The patronage of great courts such as the Medici in Florence, the d'Este in Ferrara and the Gonzaga in Mantua, as well as the papal court, particularly under Sixtus IV, will be examined. Notwithstanding major developments in the field of secular art in the Quattrocento, religious art remained pre-eminent and this will be explored in seminars on the formal and painterly development of Bellini in Venice, and on Perugino's extensive business in sacred images.
Course description There is an important tradition of teaching Renaissance art in Edinburgh underscored by the excellent collections at the National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries. Sacred and Profane Painting in Quattrocento Italy considers painting as material and economic practice and as an integral part of the intellectual, social and political history of Italy in the fifteenth century. The university library is superbly equipped in this area with extensive and up-to-date holdings. The course will complement the existing Third Year Honours course 'The High Renaissance in Rome and Florence' (which is sixteenth century based), and provide an excellent foundation for the Fourth Year Honours course 'The Renaissance Body'. The seminars will reflect my own research interests in painting and court culture in Central and Northern Italy as well as recent developments and challenges to our understanding of early Renaissance painting.


1. Introduction: Painting as a Craft and as a Liberal Art
Cennini's Il libro dell'arte and Alberti's De pictura as the basis for an enquiry into the status of painting as manual and as intellectual labour
2. Masaccio's Path
The development of narrative, psychological expression, and perspective in painting
3. Holy Order
Tradition and modernity in the work of Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi
4. Prospettiva, more than science
Perspective was not an absolute science but one open to contending versions and manipulation by artists and theorists (Brunelleschi, Alberti, Piero, Uccello)
5. Pisanello and Romance
The taste, often overlooked, for Romance subject matter in Quattrocento art
7. Botticelli: Mythology and Mysticism
Humanism (Neoplatonism) and Religion (Savonarola) in Botticelli's art
9. Cosimo Tura, Court Duties and Fantastic Realism in Ferrara
Close consideration of the multifarious activities of a court painter
9. Mantegna, Court patronage in Mantua and Ancient Rome
The Gonzaga, the camera picta, and the Triumphs of Caesar
10. Bellini and Religious Painting in Venice
Bellini's technical and formal developments made in the field of devotional painting
11. Perugino's Workshop
Reassessment of Perugino according to contemporary understanding, not just a great business man, a great painter

There will be two group visits, one to the National Gallery of Scotland, the other a combined visit to the Hunterian print room and Kelvingrove. A third visit may be organised to the print room in Edinburgh.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
* Learning Intent: A thorough knowledge of the major artists, artworks and patrons in fifteenth century Italy. An ability to conceptualise Quattrocento painting in context as a craft, as a business, as an intellectual and religious endeavour, and as a primary vehicle of knowledge and power.
* Process and Resources: Through reading primary and secondary sources and analyses of artworks during lectures and seminars, students will become familiar with the significant artworks of the period. Seminar discussion should enable students to analyse visual material and scholarship in a more critical fashion, exploring controversies within the secondary literature. Visits to the National Gallery of Scotland will allow students to view material at first hand in an environment of group discussion and enquiry.
* Criteria for Assessment: Students will demonstrate learning through seminar discussion, presentations, essays, and exams. Student accomplishment will be assessed in terms of the breadth and depth of knowledge of the art objects well as a more critical engagement with issues raised in analysing such works.
Reading List
Diane Cole Ahl (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio (Cambridge 2002)

Umberto Baldini and Ornella Casazza. The Brancacci Chapel Frescoes (London 1992)

Paul Joannides. Masaccio and Masolino. A Complete Catalogue (London 1983)

Rona Goffen. Masaccio's Trinity (Cambridge 1998)

Bruce Cole. Masaccio and the Art of Early Renaissance Florence (Bloomington 1980)

John Pope-Hennessy. Fra Angelico (London 1974)

Paolo Morachiello. Fra Angelico. The San Marco Frescoes (New York 1995)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Thea Stevens
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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