Art History - Power,
Patronage and Ideology: The Italian Renaissance

This module introduces students to the upper level study of Italian Renaissance art, with a particular focus on the influence of patrons and politics on the art of this period. We will consider the original settings for art in a variety of locations – the altar, the cloister and the chapterhouse; the city hall, the palace and the bedroom; the religious and the secular. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of Italy in the period by studying multiple geographical centres – Assisi; Padua; Siena; Milan; Naples; Florence; Venice; Ferrara; Mantua and Rome. We will also examine the major themes of Renaissance art, such as the rebirth of mimesis (naturalism; imitation) or the revival of antiquity. 

The module equips students with the tools to study the ‘social history of art’, and enables you to become adept in the use of primary written sources relating to the Renaissance as well as in the reading of images. For your overall development, you will learn how to undertake a focused study of a historical period. The module allows you to develop an interest and expertise in the Renaissance that may be carried forwards for a third year dissertation topic or postgraduate study after your degree (MA or PhD).

Topics include:

  • Leonardo da Vinci in the service of Ludovico Sforza
  • Sandro Botticelli and secular palace decoration in Florence
  • Antiquity and sexuality in Ferrara and Mantua
  • Giorgione’s Tempest and Venetian politics
  • Michelangelo and the tomb of Pope Julius II
  • Roman ideals and female submission in Florence

Assessment: 100% coursework