In the year of 1550, the Italian architect Giorgio Vasari published the first version of his famous Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. With this work, the idea of ‘artistic Renaissance’ was laid and it was indissolubly linked to Italy. Through the analysis of a series of works held in London museums and galleries, this course studies the evolution of art during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and proposes a reading of the cultural ambience of those years which goes far beyond the geographical limits of Italy. It also pays special attention to the materiality and use of artistic objects, while also examining the intentions of their makers and promoters.
The gallery-based course will be taught in situ and offers the possibility of studying a large variety of objects, from paintings to armoury and from books to tapestries. The works that will be analysed are held in the National Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, the Wallace Collection, the British Museum, the Warburg Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The aim of this course is to understand the dynamics of Renaissance art and culture, but also to comprehend the construction of art history as a discipline and the different ways in which art can be used as a source to study other aspects of human culture and history (history of literature, science, medicine, law, politics, society, etc.).