02290 - History of Modern Art

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Humanities (cod. 8850)

Learning outcomes

The course proposes to form for the students an adequate knowledge of the base of the principle facts and crucial questions of art overall Italian from the 15th century to the end of the 18th century. In particular the ability to recognize essential technical methods that would allow the student to understand the work of art from the point of view of the style and the form, the iconography, technique and to comprehend the connections to the historical, social and cultural timeframe in which they were produced. At the end of the course the student should be familiar with the characteristic themes and particularities along with the ambitions of the artists of these centuries. The student should also recognize and be able to comment on the works of the most representative artists and movements.

Course contents

The course consists of two modules, each  of 30 hours. The first module will explore and discuss the periodization and definitions (Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque and Neoclassicism) adopted by historiography in relation to the centuries studied. An analysis of some of the most representative works in terms of style, significance and context from each period will present students with the necessary knowledge and skills.

The second module, continuing the objectives of the first, incorporates a monographic study of a precise theme, specifically the relationship between literature and the figurative arts. In particular, the course will look at Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a literary text with multiple influences on art in the modern age.

The image of a frivolous and worldly poet, also for this appreciated in decadent and postmodern environments (A. Barchiesi, Introduzione, in Ovidio, Metamorfosi, edited by A. Barchiesi, Mondadori, 2013, p. CXLI), was recently countered by the description of a poet who set “the normality of ancient values and Augustan certainties against the dogma of uncertainty” (N. Gardini, Con Ovidio. La felicità di leggere un classico, Milano, Garzanti, 2017, p. 89). Particular attention will be focused on the “subversive” component of the Metamorphoses, and how it was translated into painting and sculpture by such celebrated artists as Caravaggio, Velázquez, Bernini, and others. This programme is reserved exclusively for students who attend lessons because notes taken in the classroom and educational material provided case-by-case by the professor will constitute, beyond the bibliography provided below, a fundamental part of the course that will be evaluated during the final exam. Students who do not plan to attend lessons should refer to the dedicated bibliography below.


A. Pinelli, La Storia dell’Arte. Istruzioni per l’uso, Bari, Giuseppe Laterza & figli, 2009.

L. Canali, Augusto braccio violento della storia, Milano, Bompiani, 2011 or, in alternative, S. Citroni Marchetti, “Divi Augusti adversa: un anti-mito augusteo nel I secolo dell’Impero?”, in La costruzione del mito augusteo, edited by M. Labate-G. Rosati, 2013, Heidelberg, Universitätsverlag Winter, pp. 221-240.

Instead of the book and essay on Augusto of L. Canali and S. Citroni, students can choose to study for the exam S. Cavicchioli, Le historiae affrescate dai Carracci in Palazzo Fava a Bologna, “seconda Roma” (1583-1593), Frises peintes. Les décors des villas et palais au Cinquecento, Atti del convegno, Roma, Accademia di Francia a Roma – Villa Medici, 16-17 dicembre 2011, a cura di A. Fenech Kroke-A. Lemoine, Parigi, Somogy éditions d’art, 2016, pp. 233-255.

P. Boitani, Ovidio. Storie di metamorfosi, Bologna, il Mulino, 2020.

E. Smoquina, “Le ultime poesie di Tiziano e le Metamorfosi di Ovidio”, in Il gran poema delle passioni e delle meraviglie. Ovidio e il repertorio letterario e figurativo fra antico e riscoperta dell’antico, edited by I. Colpo-F. Ghedini, conference proceedings, Padua, 15-17 September 2011, Padua, Padova University Press, 2012, pp. 393-399.

F. Zalabra, “La metamorfosi dei versi di Ovidio nella pittura del Seicento”, in Ovidio, amori, miti e altre storie, edited by F. Ghedini, exhibition catalogue, Rome, Scuderie del Quirinale, 17 October 2018 – 20 January 2019, L’Erma di Bretschneider, Naples, 2018, pp. 113-117. 

Instead of the book and essays of Boitani, Smoquina and Zalabra, students can choose to studi for the exam La Casa di Ulisse. Pellegrino Tibaldi nell'Accademia delle Scienze, a cura di W. Tega, Bologna, Edizioni Pendragon, 2021.

As a reference manual, students may consult S. Settis-T. Montanari, Arte. Una storia naturale e civile, 5 vols., Milan, Mondadori, 2019, vols. III and IV.

Bibliography for students who do not plan to attend lessons

A. Pinelli, La Storia dell’Arte. Istruzioni per l’uso, Bari, Giuseppe Laterza & figli, 2009.

E. Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes In The Art Of The Renaissance, New York, Oxford University Press, 1939 (Italian edition, Studi di iconologia. I temi umanistici nell’arte del Rinascimento, Turin, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 2009) or M. Firpo-F. Biferali, Immagini ed eresie nell'Italia del Cinquecento, Bari, Editori Laterza, 2016, capitoli I, II, IV, V e VII.

A. Gentili, Tiziano Panofsky e l’iconologia in Italia, preface to E. Panofsky, Tiziano problemi di iconografia, Venice, Marsilio, 1992, pp. XV-XLI.

As a reference manual, students may consult S. Settis-T. Montanari, Arte. Una storia naturale e civile, 5 vols., Milan, Mondadori, 2019, vols. III and IV.

Teaching methods

Lessons with projections and analyses of images

Assessment methods

Written and oral exanimation. Grades are assigned in relation to a total of thirty points, with a laude for outstanding performance. The minimum passing grade is 18/30. Examinations will serve to verify the student’s level of preparation and critical skills in relation to the classroom lessons and assigned readings.

Teaching tools


Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Anselmi


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