Spring 2009

In Pursuit of Perfection: The Progress of the Italian Renaissance

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-52


Andaleeb B. Banta (Section 01)


This course tracks the emergence and development of art of the Italian Renaissance through the lens of progress and perfection. The biographer and painter Giorgio Vasari organized the artists from Giotto through Michelangelo in a trajectory that reflected a progression toward a sublime perfection embodied in art of the High Renaissance. Although this course is not intended to laud one artist over another, it will examine these qualitative concepts through close examination of the works of major Italian Renaissance artists, thoughtful analysis, and the joint consultation of contemporary texts and modern scholarship. Fundamental to this inquiry is humanist reclamation of the achievements of the ancient classical past as the foundation for an increasingly perfect celebration of the human condition in visual form. We will trace the constantly evolving approach to the human figure, the depiction of three-dimensional space, and the visualization of narrative that occur in Italian art and architecture from ca. 1300 to ca. 1550 and concurrently consider the crucial role that patronage from both secular and religious parties played in the forging of the visual arts of the Renaissance. This course will focus primarily on the major artistic centers of Rome, Florence and Venice, but will also take into account the role other cities and republics played on the stage of Renaissance Italy. Requisite: One course in Art History or consent of the instructor Limited to 25 students. Offered once Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Banta.