90651 - Early Modern Art

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Students acquire a deep knowledge of the outlines and crucial questions of Italian art from the 15th century to the 18th century. They become familiar with the characteristic themes along with the ambitions of the artists of these centuries. They are also able to approach the works of art through their technique, style, and iconography, comprehending their connections to the historical, social and cultural context in which they were produced. In particular, they recognize and are able to comment the works of the most representative artists and movements.

Course contents

The course will consist in lectures and visits (if allowed), and it will be divided into two parts.

The first (I) will provide an overview of the history of art, mainly Italian, from the end of the XVth (High Renaissance) to the beginning of the XIXth century. It will focus on artists, movements and main topics, particularly seen from the point of view of the revival of antiquity; and at the same time will provide the students with the tools for understanding and analysing the works of art, studying them within their cultural, social and political context, and in their style, iconography and technique.

The second part (II) will deal with the spiritual “infrastructure” and visual network created in the XVth-XVIth centuries in Italy by the Benedictine Cassinese Congregation (1419 – 1570 ca).


All students:

For a survey on the history of art in XVth-XIXth centuries all students can read:

  • Stephen J. Campbell, Michael W. Cole, Italian Renaissance Art, second edition, 2 volumes, New York, Thames & Hudson, 2017 (or previous edition, 2012): passim
  • R. Wittkower, Art and architecture in Italy 1600 to 1750, Middlesex, Penguin Books, 1965 (or recent editions):especially pp. 1-177

Attending students

Students are required to know, and critically discuss and analyse

First section (I):

+ Class notes and powerpoint presentations

+ Two books from the list below:

Second section (II):

+ Class notes and powerpoint presentations

Non-attending students

Students are required to know, and critically discuss and analyse

First section (I):

+ Three books from the list below:

Second section (II):

- A. Nova, Folengo and Romanino : The Questione della lingua and its eccentric Trends, in “Art bulletin”, 76, 4, 1994, pp. 664-679

- M-A. Winkelmes, Form and Reform: Illuminated , Cassinese Reform-style Churches in Renaissance Italy, in “Annali di architettura”, 8, 1996, pp. 61-84

- M-A. Winkelmes, Taking part: benedictine nuns as patrons of art and architecture, in Picturing women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, ed by Geraldine A. Johnson, Cambridge, Cambrudge University Press, 2001, pp. 91-110

List of books

A. Nagel, C. Wood, Anachronic Renaissance, New York, Zoone Books, 2010

Michelangelo & Sebastiano, edited by M. Wiwel, catalogue of the exhibition (London, National Gallery, 15 March – 25 June 2017), London, National Gallery, 2017

John K. G. Shearman, Only Connect… Art and the Spectator in the Italian Renaissance, Princeton University Press, 1992

R. Williams, Raphael and the Redefinition of Art in Renaissance Italy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017

The Genius of Rome, 1592-1623, exhibition catalogue (London, Royal Academy of Arts, 20 January-16 April 2001; Roma, Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia, 10 May-31 July 2001), ed. by Beverly Louise Brown, London, Thames & Hudson, 2001

L. Pericolo, Caravaggio and pictorial narrative : dislocating the Istoria in early modern painting
London ; Turnhout : Harvey Miller, 2011

The Art of describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1983

K. Harloe, Winckelmann and the Invention of Antiquity. History and aesthetics in the Age of Altertumswissenschaft, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013 (Introduction and Chapters 1-3).

Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, edited by E.P. Boweron, J.Rishel, catalogue of the exhibition (Philadelphia Museum of Art, March 16-May 28, 2000), Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2000, pp. 17-75 and three (3) of the Sections of the Catalogue.

The Age of Neo-classicism, catalogue of the exhibition (The Royal Academy and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 9 september-19 november, 1972), London, The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972.

Teaching methods

Lectures, with powerpoint presentations and multimedia instruments; if allowed, on-site inspections and guided visits. Students are encouraged to play and active role within the course, through questions, comments and observations related to the lesson topics.

Due to the restrictions imposed by the current health emergency, this teaching activity will be carried out with the Traditional method, i.e. the course will be taught in presence in the indicated classroom. Students will take turns on the basis of a calendar which will be defined at the beginning of the course (more detailed information about the calendar and the modalities to get access to the classroom lessons will be provided soon). It will always be possible to connect remotely and to follow live lessons via the online platform TEAMS.

“Restricted places for incoming exchange students:

Places for incoming exchange students in this teaching activity are limited and are primarily reserved to students enrolled in art related programmes at their home university. To check availability, please write to amac@unibo.it [mailto:amac@unibo.it] .”

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral and it will aim to assess whether the students have developed the critical skills during the course. Students will be required to demonstrate an appropriate knowledge of the bibliography specified in the syllabus.

1. It will be graded as excellent the performance of those students demonstrating to be able to thoroughly analyse the works of art and the texts, and to put them into an organic view of the topics discussed during the course. The proper use of the specific language during the examination will be also essential.

2. It will be graded as discrete the performance of those students with mostly mnemonic knowledge, no in-depth analysis capabilities and a correct, but not always appropriate, language of the recommended texts.

3. It will be graded as barely sufficient the performance of those students with approximate knowledge, superficial understanding, poor analytical capabilities and a not always appropriate language.

4. It will be graded as insufficient the performance of those students with learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint slides.

Office hours

See the website of Sonia Cavicchioli