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Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe

Spring 2014

The Seminar & Requirements
The Course
    Using both primary and secondary sources, the seminar will examine Renaissance concepts of antiquity, "truth to Nature," proportion, beauty, style, and philosophical views on imitation, creativity, and the ideal with a view to understanding the art produced in the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy and the shifts in style that occurred from the Early Renaissance to the High Renaissance to Mannerism. Primary sources (in translation) include Cennino Cennini, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Giorgio Vasari.

    Art & Theory in Renaissance Italy is a LEVEL THREE course. It examines viewpoints and theories contemporary with the art. LEVEL THREE courses incorporate the study of written sources (‘primary sources’) contemporary with the artwork being examined with the view to developing an understanding of how the art was perceived and understood by the people who made and viewed it. The aim is to gain insight into how art objects were visually encountered and perceptually responded to as products of a particular visual culture.

Meeting Place and Time

  • Pannell 015: Mondays 1:30-4:00

Required Texts

  • Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)
  • Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting, translated by Cecil Grayson with an introduction and notes by Martin Kemp (London: Penguin Books, 1991)
  • The material on this website

Student Responsibilities

  • Active class participation, which includes being prepared for each class, and taking part in discussion.
  • TWO Seminar Reports as indicated in the Schedule
  • ONE Summary Report as indicated in the Schedule
  • ONE Paper (select a topic from the following List)


  • Each Seminar Report = 25%
  • Summary Report = 15%
  • Paper = 25%
  • Participation = 10%

Office and Hours

  • Pannell 04: Tuesdays 2:15-3:00 and by appointment
  • phone: 6194
  • email:


  • Attendance at every seminar meeting is expected. If you expect to be absent for whatever reason, notify me ahead of time.