Italian Renaissance art and the cult of the individual

Italian Renaissance art and the cult of the individual Start date 22 October 2010 Venue Madingley Hall End date 24 October 2010 Madingley Cambri...
Author: Alan Wells
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Italian Renaissance art and the cult of the individual Start date

22 October 2010


Madingley Hall

End date

24 October 2010

Madingley Cambridge Tutor

Shirley Smith

For further information on this course, please contact To book

Course code


Linda Fisher, Academic Programme Manager on 01223 746218 Kirsty James, Administrative Secretary on 01223 746227

See: or telephone 01223 746262

Tutor biography Graduated from the University of East Anglia with First Class Honours in the History of Art and winner of the Dissertation Prize, specialising in the Italian and Northern Renaissance. A parttime lecturer at the University of East Anglia and with the Board of Continuing Education of the University of Cambridge, she runs Certificate and Residential Weekend courses and Day Schools for both. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and lectures to various Arts Societies. Shirley is particularly keen on setting the art and architecture of the period within the context of the society for which it was produced. Her immense enthusiasm for and love of the period and its art ensures that her courses, whilst well researched, are above all enjoyable.

University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, Madingley Hall, Cambridge, CB23 8AQ

Course Programme Friday 22 October 2010 Please plan to arrive between 4:30 and 6:30. You can meet other course members in the bar which opens at 6:15. Tea and Coffee making facilities are available in the study bedrooms. 7.15 pm


8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Introduction: Humanism and its influence on the rise of the cult of the individual

10.00 pm

Terrace bar open for informal discussion

Saturday 23 October 2010 8.00 am


9.00 am – 10.30 am

The emulation of the antique

10.30 am


11.00 am – 12.30 pm

The cult of the individual: single portraits

1.00 pm


2.00 pm


4.00 pm


4.30 pm – 6.00 pm

The making of dynasties: group portraits

7.15 pm


8.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Man and his God: altarpieces and funeral chapels

10.00 pm

Terrace bar open for informal discussion

Sunday 24 October 2010 8.00 am


9.00 am – 10.30 am

The turn of the artist: self portraits.

10.30 am


11.00 am – 12.30 pm

General discussion and matters arising

1.00 pm


The course will disperse after lunch

Course syllabus Aims: 1. To consider the role of portraiture in 15th and 16th century Italian art in defining, Communicating and preserving individual and social identity. 2. To study the development in the style and content of the portrait over this period and the techniques used. 3. To examine the influence of both antiquity and northern (Flemish) art on the portraits produced in this period.

Content: The course will start by examining the importance of humanism to the way in which Renaissance man saw himself and his place in the universe. By studying the art of 15th and 16th century Italy, together with extracts from contemporary writings, the remainder of the course will examine how this emphasis on man came to dominate this art, both religious and secular, and how it was adapted to suit the needs of the individual patron. **Please note, time will not allow an in-depth study of the political and cultural background of Italy in this period. Students are advised to acquaint themselves with this prior to the course and suggested books are included in the bibliography.

Presentation of the course: Lectures will be complemented by digital images, extracts from contemporary writings and handouts. Questions and answers will take place throughout the course with students encouraged to compare and comment on the art and texts and with an open forum in the final session, using the aims and learning outcomes outlined in the programme as a basis for general discussion. **You might like to bring a magnifying glass with you.

Outcomes: As a result of the course, within the constraints of the time available, students should be able to: 1. Identify the different forms of portraiture that were developed in the Italian Renaissance and the materials used. 2. Analyse the way in which portraiture was used to construct an image of the self in accordance with the social and cultural ideals of the day. 3. Recognise the ways in which the artist and/or patron used the portrait to give a greater insight into the person being portrayed. 4. Gain a wider understanding of the influence of antiquity and northern (Flemish) art on Italian portraiture of this period. All students will be encouraged to undertake reading in preparation for the course, as well as participate in class discussions As an aid to realising Outcomes 2 – 4, Students will be invited to take part in a class-based exercise during the weekend based on specific case studies

Reading and resources list Author


Publisher and date


Lives of 12 Caesars

Penguin Classics, 2003

Pliny the Elder:

Natural History

Penguin Classics, 2004

Baldassare Castiglione

The Book of the Courtie

Dover Publications, May 2003

Giorgio Vasari

The Lives of the Artists

Penguin Classics 1987

Vespasiano da Bisticci

The Vespasiano Memoirs: Lives of Illustrious Men of the XVth century

University of Toronto Press 1997


The Prince

Penguin Classics 1995

Leon Battista Alberti

Della Pittura

Penguin Classics 1991

Cennino Cennini

The Craftsman's Handbook

Dover Publications 1960

Kemp, M. (Eds.)

Leonardo on Painting

New Haven & London. 1989

John Pope-Hennessey

The Portrait in the Renaissance

New York 1966

Lorne Campbell

Renaissance Portraits

New Haven 1990

Paola Tinagli

Women in Italian Renaissance Art- Gender, Representation, Identity

Manchester University Press 1997

Joanna WoodsMarsden

Renaissance Self-Portraiture

Yale University Press, 1998

Jacob Burckhardt

The Civilization of the Renaissance in ItalyPart 11 – The Development of the Individual

Phaidon 1995

Kim Woods

Making Renaissance Art

Yale University Press 2007

James Hall

Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art

John Murray 1993

Primary Resources:

Secondary resources:

Cultural and historical background to Renaissance Italy Alison Brown

The Renaissance

Longman 1999

Peter Burke

The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy

Polity Press 1999

Mary Hollingsworth:

Patronage in Renaissance Italy: from 1400 to the Early 16th century

John Murray 1994

Mary Hollingsworth

Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Italy

John Murray 1996

Evelyn Welch

Art and Society in Italy 1350 – 1500

Oxford University Press 1977

Alison Cole

Art of the Italian Renaissance Courts

Pearson Education 2005

Particia Fortini Brown

Art and Life in Renaissance Venice

Pearson Education 2005

Richard Turner

Renaissance in Florence: The Invention of a New Art

Pearson Education 2005

Websites: Web Gallery of Art – for good images of works and notes on artists - for images – useful for finding out location of artworks in museums - main National Gallery web site Note Students of the Institute of Continuing Education are entitled to 20% discount on books published by Cambridge University Pres (CUP) which are purchased at the Press bookshop, 1 Trinity Street, Cambridge (Mon-Sat 9am – 5:30pm, Sun 11am – 5pm). A letter or email confirming acceptance on to a current Institute course should be taken as evidence of enrolment.

Information correct as of

19 July 2010

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