History of Art



This course will investigate objects made mostly, but not solely, in the Italian peninsula in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, a period broadly — and questionably — understood to embody Renaissance ideals. By focusing on a broad variety of media, from metalwork to manuscripts, from drawing and painting to sculpture, it will address problems of materiality, technique, patronage, as well as display and interpretation, both original and modern. At the heart of this course is close looking at a number of artefacts by artists sometimes anonymous, sometimes as famous as Michelangelo, Titian, Jan van Eyck, Masaccio, Carlo Crivelli, Donatello, Tilman Riemenschneider, Mantegna or Paolo Uccello. Classes will be held in a number of different venues in London, including the National Gallery, Hampton Court, the Prints and Drawings Room in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection and the British Library. The aim is to teach an art history that puts the object at the centre, thus managing to eschew traditional narratives of Renaissance art, in the hope of finding a way to answer the far-from-banal question as to why does an artwork look the way it does.