ARTH 245 * Introduction to Art History * Professor Sarah Benson * Fall 2004
Part I: Early Renaissance in Italy and the North
Part II: High Renaissance, Mannerism, and the Rise of Secular Painting
Part III: Baroque Art, from Sun King to Dark Chamber
Final Thursday 16 December, 3:00-5:30 p.m.
You may study and go over notes with other students, but the argument and outline of your essay must be your own.
You cannot consult with your instructors ahead of time about your answers.
1) In lectures, discussions, and readings, we have discussed numerous techniques used by painters, sculptors, and printmakers for engaging spectators. Taking into account changes over time in both Southern and Northern Europe, discuss some of these techniques, the effects that artists wished to have on their audiences, and their purposes (religious, political, moral, aesthetic, erotic, etc.).
2) Whether religious imagery, mythological scenes, or portraiture, much Renaissance and Baroque art was concerned with the portrayal of the human figure. As a starting point, discuss and campare the readings that we have done on the portrayal and meanings of bodies: Janson, "The Image of Man in Renaissance Art"; Cropper, "The Beauty of Woman"; Rosenthal, "Manhood and Statehood." Explain the expressive purposes for which the human body was used by the painters, sculptors, and printmakers we have studied, paying attention to differences in different time periods, locations, and in the representation of male and female. You should consider both ideal and "realistic" or ugly bodies, the meanings that bodies were made to convey, and the purposes for which artist or patron created the work.
3) The centuries of the Renaissance & Baroque saw major changes in the political organization of Europe. Florence rose as a Republic with a strong central government in the 14th century, only to become a Medici dukedom in the 16th century; French and Spanish monarchs built large nation states; the Dutch achieved independence as a Republic governed largely by the middle classes; while Rome faced the decline of its political power in the wake of the Reformation. Giving examples from each of these locations, explain the role of art and architecture in these political shifts and in shaping or communicating the national identities of patrons and viewers.
4) During the span of centuries covered in this course, the status of artist was changing in Europe. Using examples of specific artists (painters, sculptors, architects), discuss how these changes are thematized or reflected in their work. Consider for example changes in patronage, the art market, and ways in which artists sought to promote themselves in both Southern and Northern Europe.
5) Compare the new basilica of Saint Peter's in Rome and Louis XIV's Versailles as architectural complexes encompassing both architecture (interior and exterior) and decoration. Take into account the intended users of the space, the sequence in which these people would have moved through the space, and what messages or visual statements artists and patrons make. How do they relate to earlier structures on the sites? Address the functions of these two architectural complexes and similarities or differences in their uses and the status and aims of their patrons.
6) In your last set of readings, David Hockney revisits many of the images that we have seen over the semester and offers new explanations for why they look the way they do. Taking Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors as a case study, compare the approach and insights of Hockney, who is an artist not a historian, to the iconographic and social-historical approaches of art historians as Barnet defines them. What sort of questions would each ask about the work and what sort of evidence would each need to answer these? You should suggest what iconographic and social-historical interpretations of the Ambassadors might be and compare these to Hockney's findings. Do the approaches complement each other? Are they in any way incompatible?