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The Industry of Art: Renaissance & Baroque Patrons, Artists, 
Objects & Consumers

30 Credits

This course looks at the development of European art from c.1300-1650, with a particular emphasis on Italy.

Structured in a broadly chronological sequence, each lecture will explore different art historical themes and consider the factors that shaped artistic production, focusing on the patrons, artists,objects and consumers of works of art of the period.

By looking at a range of media, this course will examine why some genres became more popular than others, and discuss how this can be seen to reflect the taste and values of the day.

The course will be roughly divided into two parts; the first part will examine previous assumptions regarding the origins and accomplishments of what is commonly referred to as ‘The Renaissance’, and will question the extent to which art produced in Italy between 1300 and 1550 can be characterized primarily in terms of rebirth and innovation. As well as considering the works themselves, the lectures will discuss various texts that help explain how the idea of a ‘Renaissance’ came into being, and demonstrate how its values still frame our understanding of western art and conditions our interpretation of art from other cultures.

The second part will look at the aftermath of this period of art history and consider how, following the Reformation, there was the development of new genres; scenes of everyday life, landscape and still life painting. We will also discuss the rise in artistic self-consciousness, the social ambition of artists, and the emergence of new media such as printmaking.

Several of the classes will take place in museums and galleries and some selected works will be examined in detail, to understand exactly how iconography and materials were used by artists and patrons to convey particular meanings.

As a basis for conducting their own research, students will be introduced to primary sources of evidence that can help in reconstructing the original appearance and function of a work of art.

Consideration will also be given to issues of display, and the often controversial implications of restoration and/or conservation will be discussed.