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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joanne Snow-Smith
ART H 463
Seattle Campus

Italian Renaissance Sculpture

From Nicola Pisano to Giambologna. Recommended: some background in Italian Renaissance art or history.

Class description

This course will explore the richness of the classical tradition (Greek and Roman) which became the cornerstone of sculpture in the Italian Renaissance. The variety of antique sources available to the Italian artists of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries was vast and the interpretations and re-interpretations of them will form the focus of our attention in this course. During our study, in particular, of the works of Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatell, Verrocchio and Michelangelo, we shall trace the manner in which the study of classical culture and art together with expressions of an innate sense of psychophysical beauty produced major innovations in the art of sculpture.

We will learn that an historical context is necessary in order to study the art of a particular period. Three factors affect the work of a period: 1) what had gone before (tradition); 2) what is the current style; and 3) what is the local style. However,a genius transcends his milieu - he is above the current style and he anticipates future developments. The major sculptors that we will be studying clearly reflect this concept. Every work of art is determined by what preceded it. It is affected by tradition; even in revolutionary breaks in art tradition the new forms are not without antecedents. As well as a tradition in form, there is a tradition of content. Iconography, which will be of major concern to us in this course, is the science of the traditions of artistic imagery of the subject matter. Excellent slides of all the sculptural works of art discussed will be shown in class, with many details included.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

There will be three hours of class time per week: Monday and Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:50pm in Room 003 of the School of Art Building. In addition, the instructor has prepared a syllabus for the class [available at the Communications Copy Center for a nominal price] which outlines the material to be covered in the class lectures as well as explanations of important terms and themes.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Required Text: Roberta Olsen, Italian Renaissance Sculpture, London: Thames and Hudson, 1992.

Recommended Text: Charles Avery, Florence Renaissance Sculpture, London: John Murray, Publ., 1982.

James Hall, A History of Ideas and Images in Italian Art, London: John Murray, Publ., 1983; paperback 1995.

Frederick Hatt, History of Italian Renaissance Art, Prentice-Hall and Hary N. Abrams, 5th ed., 2003

Grading for the course will be based on: 1) a mid-term examination, 30%; 2) a final examination, 40%; and 3) a term paper, 30%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Maryellen K. Anderson
Date: 12/18/2003