Module Details

AR302-6-FY-CO: The Reinvention Of Man And The World: Art And Architecture In High Renaissance Italy

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2017/18
Department: Art History and Theory
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: Yes

Supervisor: Dr Caspar Pearson
Teaching Staff: Dr Caspar Pearson
Contact details: Jan Butler, Second and Final Year Administrator Email:

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Module Outline (updated March 2014)

This module examines some key themes relating to the art and architecture of the High Renaissance in Italy. These include: the connections between antiquarianism, eroticism, and desire; preoccupations with proportionality and with the colossal; the notion of an `antirenaissance`; Mannerism, contrivance, and artificiality; the development of art theory; and the uncertain role and character of nature. The module is thematic, rather than chronological. It is structured around a group of artworks and buildings on the one hand, and a selection of relevant primary texts and modern art historical readings on the other. It is not concerned with a celebration of the Renaissance as a period of exemplary cultural achievement or a golden age in European art. Rather, it seeks to mainatin an acute consciousness of the alterity of many of the phenomena under discussion and to investigate works of art with a view to their historical and cultural specificity. Simultaneously, the module explores a range of art historical approaches to these artworks and buildings, and interrogates the notion of the Renaissance itself.


to investigate the major artistic developments of the High Renaissance in Italy;
to explore a number of different methodologies for approaching works of art and architecture of the period;
to situate artistic production during the High Renaissance in it cultural, religious, political and social contexts;
to develop writing skills and skills of visual analysis.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this module students should:

be able to analyse visually works of High Renaissance art and architecture;
be able to relate High Renaissance art and architecture to its social, religious, political and cultural contexts;
be able to distinguish critically between different methodological approaches to High Renaissance art and architecture;
be able to speak articulately in class regarding High Renaissance art and architecture;
be able to write in an informed, critical and argumentative manner on High Renaissance art and architecture.

Learning and Teaching Methods

1 x 2 hour seminar each week during the autumn term.


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark


2 x 2,000-3,000 word essays and one viva voce exam, equally weighted Weighting: 100% coursework (see School Undergraduate Handbook and full module description on ORB from September for further details).

Exam Duration and Period

3:00 during Summer Examination period.

Other information

Gallery visits during the autumn term.


  • Bibliography (updated October 2013)
  • Background reading is an essential part of this module. A detailed bibliography is given below. Readings are recommended for each week and are sometimes required. However, ALL students are strongly recommended to read the following books in their entirety:
  • STINGER, Charles, The Renaissance in Rome, Bloomington (Indiana University Press) 1985.
  • ROWLAND, Ingrid, The Culture of the High Renaissance: Ancients and Moderns in Sixteenth-Century Rome, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press) 1998.
  • VASARI, Lives of the Artists, various editions. Read especially the lives of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo.
  • CONDIVI, Ascanio, The Life of Michelangelo, various editions.
  • For those who would like to read some general, introductory works on some of the main artists featured on the module the following are recommended:
  • HUGHES, Anthony, Michelangelo, London (Phaidon) 1998
  • HOPE, Charles, Titian, London (Jupiter Books) 1980.
  • Bibliography
  • ACKERMAN, James, The Architecture of Michelangelo, London, 1961, 1966.
  • AIKEMA, Bernard, and BROWN (eds.), Beverly, Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Dürer, Bellini and Titian, London, 1999.
  • AMES-LEWIS, Francis, and JOHANNIDES, Paul (eds.), Reactions to the Master: Michelangelo`s Effect on Art and Artists in the Sixteenth-Century, Aldershot, 2003.
  • ANDERSON, Jaynie, Giorgione: the Painter of Poetic Brevity: including a Catalogue Raisonné, Paris, 1997.
  • ARGAN, Giulio Carlo, and CONTARDI, Bruno, Michelangelo Architect, London, 1993.
  • BALDINI, Umberto, The Complete Sculpture of Michelangelo, London, 1982.
  • BARNES, Bernardine, Michelangelo`s Last Judgment: the Renaissance Response, Berkeley, 1998.
  • BAROLSKI, Paul, `Michelangelo`s marble faun revisited,` Artibus et Historiae, vol. 20, No. 40, 1999, pp. 113-116. (JSTOR)
  • BARTALINI, Roberto, `Sodoma, the Chigi and the Vatican Stanze,` The Burlington Magazine, vol. 143, No. 1182, Sept. 2001, pp. 544-553. (JSTOR)
  • BROWN, David Alan, Leinardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius, New Haven and London, 1998.
  • BROWN, David Alan, and VAN NIMMEN, Jane, Raphael and the Beautiful Banker: the Story of the Bindo Altoviti Portrait, New Haven, 2005.

Further information