The Early Renaissance in Italy: Six Major Artists

The artists of the Early Renaissance in Italy, benefitting from Classical Greco-Roman architecture and sculpture, the works of Giotto and Sienese painters and sculptors, Flemish art, paint supplies from the Near East, and their own genius, laid the foundation for the High Renaissance. We explore the work of six major artists.

  • Andrea del Verrocchio, a sculptor at heart, ran a successful workshop in Florence which attracted a number of next generation masters including Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. The lecture focuses on his sculptures and paintings.
  • Fra Angelico, the Dominican monk and painter, created numerous works for the Order and secular works. The presentation focuses on Fra Angelico and one of his pupils, Benozzo Gozzoli.
  • Sandro Botticelli created two major works that are forever associated with his name: The Birth of Venus and Primavera. We read the complex symbolism in these and other works.
  • Lorenzo Maitani was the Italian architect and sculptor primarily responsible for the construction and decoration of the façade of the Orvieto Cathedral. The presentation focuses on Maitani’s sculptures as well as the decorations in the San Brizio Chapel by Luca Signorelli.
  • Piero della Francesca decorated the Apsidal Chapel in the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo. We spend the lecture presentation on the series of frescos he painted commonly called The Legend of the True Cross, his largest work and an early Renaissance masterpiece.
  • Andrea Mantegna, like Piero della Francesca, believed that painting benefitted most from Greco-Roman sculpture. Both artists could be called “painting sculptors”. The presentation explores his easel works for the Duke of Urbino and the affreschi he painted for the Gonzaga family in Mantova.

JUSTIN NEWELL, art historian and artist, has lectured extensively on Western painting, sculpture and architecture, the Bible in Western art and Greek myths in art at many post-secondary institutions, as well as aboard leading cruise lines. Justin also leads art history tours to Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris, London and other art centres of the world, and weaves his knowledge of history, art, political events and famous sights into his presentations.

Course Format

This course is 100% online with real-time lectures. Once a week, you participate in a live online lecture of 45–60 minutes, followed by 30–45 minutes of questions and answers with your instructor. Class times are in the Pacific Time Zone. We record every lecture in case you miss one.

Please note: Recorded lectures and course materials are available for one week only after the course ends.

You can participate in the lecture with your video turned on or off, however all students are muted to minimize ambient noise. Students can ask questions using a chat feature, and your instructor answers verbally. You can use your name or an alias when you join the lecture.

This course is hosted on Canvas Catalog, a learning management system, and delivered by Zoom, a web-based video conferencing application. One business day before the course start date, we’ll email you step-by-step instructions for accessing your course

Available Sessions

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