Module 2: 1400-1500
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.
Week 1: The Renaissance
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.
Week 2: Bruges and Flanders
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.
Week 3: Portraits, people and gods
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.
Week 4: Secular and domestic
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.
Week 5: Court and state
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.
Week 6: The artist as ‘star’
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'.
Jo Walton has been lecturing for The Arts Society for over 15 years, specialising in the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, as well as aspects of British 20th-century painting. She has also worked extensively with The Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery, The Art Fund and local art groups around the UK. She was a guide at Tate Britain and Tate Modern for over a decade.
Each session lasts for 2 hours and includes a lecture delivered by course lecturer Jo Walton, followed by a short break and further discussion. Several of the sessions feature an in-depth contribution from Gallery experts who will focus on aspects of the Gallery’s work.
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 are supplied on Wednesday mornings.
Optional homework is provided to help you prepare for the following week's session.
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 available to you for one week.
A video of the week's lecture will be uploaded on Friday afternoons, in time for the weekend. You will be able to find the video by checking back to the page where you accessed your handouts for the week's session. Just be sure to watch it by the following Friday lunchtime, as it will be taken down on Friday afternoons.
This is an online ticketed course, hosted on Zoom. Please book a ticket for the six-week module.
Once you have booked your ticket for the module, you will receive a confirmation email, with your Zoom link. It will also be resent to you on the morning of each session, along with your handouts.
Your link will be valid for the duration of the module.
A closer look
Would you like to take a deeper dive into the period 1250-1400, by taking a closer look online at paintings covered on the course?
For an additional fee, you may opt to attend a weekly online discussion session led by Gallery Educators. This is a chance to talk about relevant paintings, in a small group and to consolidate your learning from the previous session through discussion and close looking.
'A closer look' takes place as a Zoom meeting, on Tuesday afternoons from 4-4.50pm, starting Tuesday 27 October. Unlike the main 'Stories of art' webinar lectures, these participatory sessions are not recorded, and attendees are visible to one another.
You can add 'A closer look' as an optional extra to your order at the checkout.
A separate Zoom link for 'A closer look' sessions will be emailed to those who book this option.
Places are limited.