Art history 322 Italian Art from Donatello to Leonardo da Vinci: 1400-1500 Spring 2014

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Italian Art from Donatello to Leonardo da Vinci: 1400-1500
Spring 2014

Prof. Gail L. Geiger

Office Hrs. Friday 11-1pm & by appt.

226 Conrad A. Elvehjem Building

tel. 263-2287



Italian Art from Donatello to Leonardo da Vinci: 1400-1500

Within the rich cultural tradition known as the Renaissance, the art of the fifteenth-century (quattrocento) on the Italian peninsula offers the greatest variety of styles and types of patronage. This period includes deeply religious art, a new passion for ancient Roman, Greek and Etruscan art, a new art from distant regions of exploration, art for status, for the Church, and for mundane, everyday purposes.

This course will be concerned primarily with painting, sculpture, architecture, but also will include some other media such as textiles, glass, fired clay with tin glaze, wood, and gold. Initially we shall focus on the revolutionary changes in artistic style in Florence and then consider the integration of this "new style" within numerous regional traditions throughout the peninsula from Naples in the south to Venice in the north. Scholars have interpreted these changes from different points of view and have suggested that causes reside in politics, or economics, or genius, or cultural issues. Evidence for these views depends on the art itself, related documents and historical circumstances. We shall be equally concerned with such interpretative problems.

Course Requirements: You are expected to attend class and be prepared to discuss the required reading assignments. Readings will be found in your required text and in your READER from Bob's Copy Shop. In addition, the bibliography included in your syllabus is on reserve in the Kohler Art Library (listed in the binder and available behind the circulation desk) and can be found by the call numbers listed.


Two required texts are available at the University Bookstore, textbook section:
Frederick Hartt and David Wilkins, History of Italian Renaissance Art, 7th ed. (2011) provides you with a general descriptive text and excellent photographs that I have used in the past as a required text useful to read both before and after the relevant class lecture.
Evelyn Welch, Art and Society in Italy 1350-1500, (Oxford, ’97) is a critical, focused text and should be read as soon as you can and used throughout the course.
Recommended only:

1. Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art (Addison Wesley Longman)

2. James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects & Symbols in Art, rev. ed. (New York: Icon

Editions, Harper & Row, 1974).

Required READER: Course Reader available at Bob’s Copy Shop, 616 University Avenue (257-4536—call before trekking over to make certain it is available). This contains the course syllabus, original documents, and secondary critical readings.

Evaluation will be based on three exams @25% each, a cumulative take home

exam 25%. I do, however, take improvement into consideration.

Exam Schedule:

1. 23 Feb. Wed. Exam #1. [Lectures 2 through 14]

2. 9 April. Wed. Exam #2 [lectures 15-30]

3. 11 May Fri. Third “5 week exam” [lectures 31-43]

4. Cumulative, take-home final essay exam due 11 MAY Sunday, 2014, 12:25-2:25 in hard copy at my office 226 Conrad A. Elvehjem Bldg.
The in-class exam format consists of image identifications taken from your syllabus, image comparisons. In your responses you should incorporate relevant assigned original sources and critical essays. All visual art cited on your syllabus will be found on the Web Site for the course: Web Site: The required images for your exams will appear on the flash card web site.

Note: Those who wish to take the class for graduate credit, or Honors should speak with me the first week of class regarding other requirements.


  1. Syllabus of Readings and Images to Know.

  2. Table of Contents for Documents, Critical Essays.

  3. Kohler Art Library Reserve List

  4. Primary Sources

  5. Secondary Sources.

Week I.
1. 22 Jan. Wed. Introduction.
A. Historical Context: political; social; economic, theoretical.
Continuity: the Church; corporate units- family, guild, confraternities; the government; communes, princely states, republics.
Visuals: [Note, these are not required.]
Welch: Maritime routes (pp. 18-19)

Map (p. 24)

Plan of S. Maria Novella, Fl (p. 168)

Chart of Popes and Anti-popes (p. 246)

Chart of Doges of Venice (p. 273)]