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

Undergraduate Course: How to Make Italian Renaissance Art: Media, Methods and Materials in Theory and Practice 1400-1550 (HIAR10114)

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
SummaryHow 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.

Course description Seminar List
1. Introduction
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
4. Colour
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.
8. Marble
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.
9. Wood
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.
10. Ceramics
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.
11. Conclusions
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)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  22
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 11/01/2021
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 50%, Practical 0%, Exam 50%

One essay (50%) (2000 words)
One 24 hour online examination (50%)
Feedback Students are given the opportunity to submit a formative assessment, normally a short essay and/or a plan for their assessed coursework mid-way through the semester. You will be given written and verbal feedback on this in short individual meetings with the course organiser within 10 days of the hand-in date. All students are also offered a revision class where they will be given practice in tackling past exam papers.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. You will gain an understanding of the major materials used to create renaissance sculpture, painting, drawing and "applied arts" such as printing, ceramics and tapestry.
  2. You will gain an insight into the international networks of trade in the renaissance period, considering the close relationship between economics and art production.
  3. You will understand the cultural significance of the use of different materials and pigments such as lapis lazuli, vermillion, bronze, marble and glass.
  4. You will gain an insight into 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).
  5. You will have an understanding of conservation issues and how they affect Renaissance artworks, and in particular how materials degrade over time, resulting in a present-day appearance that can be very different to what was originally intended.
Reading List
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.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsrenaissance painting sculpture printing drawing applied arts techniques trade
Course organiserProf Carol Richardson
Tel: (0131 6)50 4119
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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