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Stories of art: Online

1400-1500

From Botticelli to Bellini, discover 15th-century Renaissance painting with art historian Jo Walton at our popular online course
Date
Wednesday, 3 November 2021 - Wednesday, 8 December 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT
Available online only

About

Learn how European Renaissance artists, such as Crivelli, Van Eyck and Piero della Francesca revolutionised painting in the 15th century.

The Renaissance was one of the most dynamic periods in the history of European art and culture, producing remarkable developments in painting, architecture, sculpture, music, philosophy and science. In the hands of a few exceptional figures, the role of the artist began to expand from being artisan makers of images and objects, to that of multi-talented ‘Renaissance man’, not only changing the way people viewed and depicted the world, but also changing the look and feel of the world itself.   

In this module, we examine the meaning of the term ‘Renaissance’, learn about the influence of humanism, the invention of linear perspective, the rise of the individual and the growth of the international luxury goods trade.

Image: Detail from Sandro Botticelli, 'Venus and Mars', about 1485

Week 1: The Renaissance

Date
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

What does the word 'Renaissance' really mean?  

The 15th century saw new ideas and artistic techniques sweep across Europe. Looking at Italy and Flanders, as well as other European states, we will explore the impact of the rise of humanism and the rediscovery of antiquity.

Image: Detail from Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Piero del Pollaiuolo, 'The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian', completed 1475

Week 2: Bruges and Flanders

Date
Wednesday, 10 November 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

What made Bruges such a vibrant artistic centre?  

Closely linked by trade to Florence, Bruges became one of the leading centres of art patronage and production in Europe. We’ll consider some of the famous artists and artworks that were produced there.

Image: Jan van Eyck, 'The Arnolfini Portrait' (detail), 1434 © The National Gallery, London

Week 3: Portraits, people and gods

Date
Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

Learn how ideas about individuality changed portraiture. 

As new ideas about the importance of the individual began to take root in the early 1400s, different forms of portraiture appeared. We’ll look at the increasing realism and emotional impact of portraits and at depictions of figures from myth, legend and history.

Image: Detail from Alesso Baldovinetti, 'Portrait of a Lady', about 1465

Week 4: Secular and domestic

Date
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

What can paintings tell us about everyday life in the Renaissance? 

This week we look at the growing desire for domestic artworks. Painted objects and decorative furnishings for the home, including ‘cassone’ (marriage chests) as well as private devotional objects, reveal a lot about household life in the 15th century.

Image: Detail from Italian, Florentine, 'Cassone with a Tournament Scene', probably about 1455-65

Week 5: Court and state

Date
Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

What was the relationship between art and power? 

As the different states of Italy jockeyed for position on the European stage, art and patronage became important weapons in maintaining the relative importance of duchies, dynasties, republics and kingdoms.

Image: Cosimo Tura, 'A Muse (Calliope?)' (detail), probably 1455–60

Week 6: The artist as ‘star’

Date
Wednesday, 8 December 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT

How did some artists, like Leonardo da Vinci, achieve ‘star’ status? 

With his mechanical inventions, anatomical studies, and virtuoso paintings, Leonardo was a remarkable artist. As we bring together what we have learned about the art of the 15th century we will look at the rise of the artist as a 'star performer'. 

Image: Leonardo da Vinci, 'The Virgin of the Rocks' (detail), about 1491/2-9 and 1506-8 © The National Gallery, London

Your tutor

Jo Walton is an art historian. She is a lecturer for The Arts Society, London, specialising in the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as aspects of British 20th-century painting. She also works with the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Art Fund in London and local art groups around the UK.

Watch again

Can't make Wednesday evenings but don't want to miss out? No problem, you can watch again.

'Stories of art' sessions are recorded and made available to you for one week.

A video of the week's lecture will be uploaded and available for you to watch via your National Gallery account on Friday afternoons, in time for the weekend. Just be sure to watch it by the following Friday lunchtime, as it will be taken down on Friday afternoons.

Recordings are available to participants via YouTube, where they can be watched with subtitles.

Format

Each session lasts for 2 hours and includes a lecture delivered by course lecturer Jo Walton, followed by a short break and further discussion. 

Time will be allowed for questions and discussion via Q&A. We will also be joined by a guest art historian, who will help to answer as many questions as possible.

Handouts will be available via your National Gallery account on Tuesday mornings. 

Optional homework is provided to help you prepare for the following week's session.

Booking information

This is an online ticketed course hosted on Zoom. Please book a ticket to access the six-week module. Only one ticket can be booked per account.

You will be emailed an E-ticket with instructions on how to access the course via your National Gallery account. All course information including your Zoom link, weekly handouts, and recordings will be available here.

Your link will be valid for the duration of the module.

Booking after the course has started

You are welcome to join the module at any point during its six-week run. However, please note that you will only be able to see the recording from the previous session, as these are taken offline after one week.

'A closer look' (Gallery tours)

Would you like to look closely at relevant paintings and themes from your lecture course, and discuss them in a friendly, informal group, onsite at the National Gallery?

This weekly small group session, led by Gallery Educators, provides an opportunity to complement and consolidate your learning from the previous 'Stories of art' session, through a Gallery tour, group discussion and close looking.

Places are limited to 20 people. 

'A closer look' takes place on Tuesday afternoons from 4-5pm, from Tuesday 9 November, departing from the Sainsbury Wing Foyer. 

To book your place for 'A closer look', add this option to your basket when you purchase 'Stories of art' or use this booking link.

What have people said about 'A closer look'?

"I found the 'Closer look' sessions invaluable for consolidating and extending the lecture material. All the 'Closer look' leaders have been knowledgeable, thought-provoking and skilled in leading the discussions so that we are all able to participate. The group participants have been collegial and provided stimulating perspectives." Frank

'Stories of art' course rating

Participants rated 'Stories of art: 1250-1400' an average of 4.9 stars out of 5 in 2020.

What are people saying about 'Stories of art'?

"What an outstanding course this has been. Jo is a 5-star tutor! From all the learning there will be much of added interest for us to see and appreciate during future trips abroad. Thank you!" David

"I would like to say how wonderful I have found Jo’s lectures on the Renaissance, informative, lively and full of extra bits of wit and scandal of the period. She has a unique talent for holding her audience spellbound over a long period." Simon

"It has been a wonderful 42 weeks, and I’ve learnt so much and been inspired by each successive module. It was such a good idea to move online and to provide the subtitled recordings afterwards. It meant that, despite my profound deafness, I was able to fully participate in and enjoy the course."  Jane

"It is thanks to the National Gallery, London that I grew intellectually and spiritually during those long months of the pandemic. Thanks to all of you, my inner world became larger as my physical world was made so much smaller." Jacqueline

"I enjoyed and learned from every tutor. I took copious notes, did the optional homework, bought books, watched videos, and went to websites. I was busy, I was enthralled, I learned, I shared with my family. Now I am excited to return to see the paintings in a new light, with a deeper knowledge of the techniques, the artists, the history of acquisition, the politics of the times when they were created, and even the framing." Jacky

Dates of upcoming modules

Stories of art runs over 42 weeks, beginning in September and ending in August. There are 7 modules covering the period 1250-2022. Join us for any or all of the following modules:

Module 1500-1600 will run from 5 January - 9 February and is led by Dr Richard Stemp

Module 1600-1700 will run from 23 February - 30 March and is led by Lucrezia Walker

Module 1700-1800 will run from 20 April - 25 May and is led by Dr Richard Stemp

Module 1800-1900 will run from 8 June - 13 July and is led by Amy Mechowski

Module 1900-2022 will run from 20 July - 24 August and is led by Lucrezia Walker. 

Stories of art: Online

1400-1500

From Botticelli to Bellini, discover 15th-century Renaissance painting with art historian Jo Walton at our popular online course
Date
Wednesday, 3 November 2021 - Wednesday, 8 December 2021
Time
5.30 - 7.30 pm GMT
Available online only