WEEK 1: 14-18 July 2014

Course 2: Dr Janet Robson

A Tale of Two Cities: Florence, Siena and the Birth of Renaissance Art


detail with two saints pointing to the Virgin and Child enthroned
Bernardo Daddi, The Virgin and Child enthroned, triptych, detail, 1338, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Ever since Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century championed Cimabue and Giotto as the first great Italian artists, Florence has been proclaimed as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. But how accurate is this idea? Despite the fame of Giotto, his style was not the only one favoured in his native city, nor was painting in early Renaissance Italy completely dominated by Florentines. Sienese artists were just as successful, even winning major commissions from Florentine patrons. This course will reassess the relative contributions of Florence and Siena in the renewal of Italian painting between c.1280 and 1348. We will examine panel paintings and frescoes created by leading artists from the two rival cities, including the Florentines Cimabue, Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and Bernardo Daddi, and the Sienese masters Duccio, Simone Martini, and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Can their work usefully be characterized as ‘Florentine’ or ‘Sienese’? Or was the style of painting produced in the two cities determined by other factors, such as the function of the work, its patrons and viewers? The course will include visits to the National Gallery and The Courtauld Gallery.

Course 3: Dr Susan Jones and Clare Richardson

Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden: Materials, Methods and Meanings

The fee for this course is £475 as the group will be limited to 10 students; this also includes the cost of course materials

This course is now FULL


This course will examine Early Netherlandish painting in terms of the materials and methods it employed, and the meanings it delivered, by focusing on its most celebrated practitioners: Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. Through case studies of such paintings as van Eyck’s enigmatic Arnolfini Portrait and van der Weyden’s haunting Descent from the Cross, we will explore how their extraordinary work achieved its effects and how it was valued and viewed by their patrons. We will trace the artists’ creative processes by investigating the properties and possibilities of oil paint, the manufacture and preparation of panel supports, the design and underdrawing of compositions, and the procedures of paint application. Consideration of the contexts for which paintings were intended will further elucidate their meaning, using the latest research to investigate questions of audience, setting and function. Students will be introduced to the technical research methods employed by art historians to understand panel paintings: original objects will be scrutinised in The Courtauld’s Conservation Studios using microscopy, x-radiography, and infrared reflectography. We will visit The Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery and the British Museum to look at works by van Eyck and van der Weyden, their contemporaries and followers.

WEEK TWO: 21–25 July 2014

Course 9: Caroline Brooke

Art, Money and Power: Medici Patronage in Florence c. 1420-1570

This course is now FULL

The name ‘Medici’ is synonymous with artistic innovation and achievement during the Renaissance in Florence. This course examines the art patronage of more than five generations of the dynasty, from the emergence of the family as a political force early in the Renaissance, to the establishment of the grand duke dynasty that reigned for almost two centuries. It focuses on the commissions of Cosimo the Elder, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany, in order to consider how the political, religious and social aspirations of individual members of the Medici family shaped the cultural and artistic life of the city. The works of major Florentine artists such as Donatello, Fra Filippo Lippi, Michelangelo and Bronzino are examined in relation to the tastes and aspirations of their patrons, as manifestations of civic pride, devotion, and personal ambition. Issues such as familial pietas, the varying fortunes of the Medici bank and the political climate of the period are also considered in relation to the development of Medicean patterns of patronage. Visits include the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Please note that Dr Scott Nethersole’s Study Tour to Florence from 4 – 6 September will pursue some of the themes of power and patronage discussed during the week.  Both course and tour are, however, entirely freestanding events and attendance at one does not require attendance at the other.

WEEK THREE: 28 July - 1 August 2014

Course 18: Dr Susan Jones

Art and Society in Renaissance Bruges


This course is now FULL

This course will consider how objects in a range of media were used, viewed and understood in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Bruges.  Over five days, we will study works of art that illuminate five different but overlapping spheres in the life of this important Netherlandish trade emporium and cultural centre: the town government, the Burgundian court, international trade, the church and privately-funded projects. For each of these areas, we will select objects and related documents which can help us to understand rituals, ideas, values and beliefs that characterized contemporary Bruges society. These will include some of the most splendid and exquisitely-crafted objects of a period in which the love of materials was matched by a growing awareness of  the unique artistic skill of individual  craftsmen: illuminated manuscripts by the Ghent-Bruges school,  the fifteenth-century stained glass windows from the Chapel of the Holy Blood, exquisite enamel silverware from the Burgundian court, and, of course, the sophisticated and technically brilliant panel paintings of Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling and Gerard David.  We will visit the rich collections of objects made in Bruges and Flanders in London collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery and the British Library.

Please note that Dr Jones will also explore the great artistic tradition of Bruges during a Study Tour from 12 – 14 September 2013.  Both Summer School course and Tour are entirely free-standing and one does not require participation in the other

WEEK FOUR: 4 - 8 August 2014

Course 26: Dr Geoffrey  Nuttall

Lucca and the Courts of Europe, 1350-1450: Merchants of Luxury and Patrons of Art



The sumptuous garments worn by the rulers of Europe in innumerable manuscript illustrations and paintings are representations of the fabulous silks manufactured and supplied to them by merchants from the small Tuscan city of Lucca.  These fabulously wealthy men, who were unique in being not only consumers, but also producers of luxury goods, provided kings, popes and princes not only with gorgeous robes but with every imaginable luxury, from pearls to tapestries.  On their own behalf, they commissioned some of the most famous yet enigmatic masterpieces of early Renaissance art; Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait, Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration of the Magi, and Jacopo della Quercia's Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto.  

This course explores the art of Lucchese silk and the cosmopolitan patronage of the international merchants who controlled the industry.  We will look at their contacts with the great courts of France, Burgundy and England, and explore how the Lucchese networks promoted artistic exchange between Italy and Northern Europe.  Visits will include the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The Courtauld Gallery.


Course 27: Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

Might and Munificence: Court Patronage in Renaissance Ferrara, Mantua, Rimini and Urbino


This course is now FULL

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, some of the most sophisticated courts of Europe were concentrated in a few small towns in north-eastern Italy. The most significant were at Ferrara, Mantua, Rimini and Urbino, each dominated by a ruling dynasty, respectively the Este, Gonzaga, Malatesta and Montefeltro. From these families emerged some of the most magnificent patrons of the Renaissance in the visual arts, music, literature and humanist learning: Isabella d’Este and her brother Alfonso, Lodovico Gonzaga and his pleasure-loving descendent Federico, Sigismondo Malatesta and his arch-rival Federico of Montefeltro. Their reputations have been immortalized by Piero della Francesca, Andrea Mantegna, Leonbattista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci and Titian. How did these rulers attract such major figures to work for them? What motivated them to spend so much on the arts? How could they compete with much larger, more powerful, and richer states in the patronage of sophisticated culture? How did their refined taste come to be adopted elsewhere in Italy and then influence much of European culture? There will be visits to the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and the British Museum to examine first-hand some of the finest products of these splendid courts.