1. Analyse the role of chiaroscuro and sfumato in Leonardo’s paintings. What do these terms mean, and how does Leonardo deploy them? How do these elements affect viewer response? You should include analysis of at least two works to demonstrate your points.
See entries on Light and on Chiaroscuro by J. Bell in Oxford Art Online; Shearman, J., “Leonardo’s colour and chiaroscuro”, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 25 (1962): 13-47; Kemp, M., Leonardo da Vinci: the marvellous works of nature and man, any edition [also available in electronic edition] and/or same author’s Leonardo, any edition; Farago, C., “Leonardo’s Color and Chiaroscuro Reconsidered: The Visual Force of Painted Images”, Art Bulletin 73 (1991): 63-88; Nagel, Alexander, “Leonardo’s sfumato”, Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 24 (1993): 7-20; Stoichita, V. I., A Short History of the Shadow (London, 1997)
2. Leo Steinberg once said that for anyone hoping to encounter Leonardo da Vinci’s hand, the Last Supper represents ‘heartbreak hotel’—and yet he himself was to write an incredibly detailed book on the topic. Despite the most recent scrupulous restorations, Leonardo’s famous painting is a glorious ruin, with tiny flecks of original paint suspended in modern restoration. And yet somehow it still compels us. Why do you think this is so? Be sure to demonstrate your arguments with detailed analysis of specific features. Kemp, M., Leonardo da Vinci: the marvellous works of nature and man, any edition (or his Leonardo); Steinberg, L., “Leonardo’s Last Supper,” Art Quarterly 36 (1973): 297–410 (extended essay that was the seed for his subsequent book); idem, Leonardo’s incessant Last Supper, New York, 2001. Kemp also wrote the Oxford Art Online article, where you can find references to standard older (Clark, Pedretti, Heydenreich) and recent monographs.
3. Discuss the role of drawing in the work of one or more sixteenth-century artists (eg Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo). What light does an analysis of their drawings shed on the artist’s creative processes? You may chose to focus on a particular type of drawing (eg compositional sketches, cartoons, anatomical studies, architectural drawings, Michelangelo’s gift drawings), a group of related drawings (eg studies for a particular work, or a thematic series, such as Michelangelo’s late drawings of the crucified Christ) and/or a particular media, such as pen and ink or red or black chalk. Ames-Lewis, F., Drawing in early Renaissance Italy, New Haven, 1981; Bambach, C., Drawing and painting in the Italian Renaissance workshop: theory and practice, 1300-1600, Cambridge, 1999; Rosand, D., Drawing acts: studies in graphic expression and representation, Cambridge, 2002. For individual artists, check entries in Oxford Art Online, recent monographs, as well individual drawing monographs, eg: Zwijnenberg, R., The writings and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci: order and chaos in early modern thought, Cambridge, 1999; Hirst, M., Michelangelo and his drawings, New Haven, 1988; Wallace, W.E., ed., Michelangelo: selected scholarship in English, vol. 5, Drawings, poetry and miscellaneous studies, Hamden, 1995; Brothers, C., Michelangelo, drawing and the invention of architecture, New Haven, 2008; Pope-Hennessy, J., Raphael, New York, 1970; Joannides, P., The drawings of Raphael. With a complete catalogue, Oxford, 1983; Ames-Lewis, F., The draftsman Raphael, New Haven, 1986; recent exhibition catalogues by Chapman, Joannides, Bambach.
4. Compare and contrast at least one work each by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphel from their overlapping time in Florence, in the first decade of the sixteenth century. How does each of these artists interpret similar subjects or formal themes (eg the human figure, portraits, action, the Virgin and Child)? Can you see any connections, borrowings or reworkings? What (if anything) do they learn from each other and/or how are such influences adapted and made their own?
Labella, V., A season of giants: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, 1492-1508, Boston, 1990; Goffen, R., Renaissance rivals: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, New Haven, 2002; Burke, J., “Republican Florence and the Arts, 1494–1513”, in F. Ames-Lewis, ed., Florence, Cambridge, 2011 (on her academia page); Cole, M., Leonardo, Michelangelo, and the Art of the Figure, New Haven, 2014.
5. Analyse the programme of one or more of the frescoed rooms Raphael painted in the Vatican palace (Stanza della Segnatura, Stanza dell’Eliodoro OR Stanza dell’Incendio), paying attention to the ambitions of both patron and artist. Is there a particular organising theme or themes, and if so, why were they chosen and how does Raphael respond to the task of visualising them?
Shearman, J., “The Expulsion of Heliodorus”, in Frommel, C. and M. Winner, eds, Raffaello a Roma, Rome, 1986, 75-87; Hall, M., ed., Raphael’s School of Athens, Cambridge, 1997; idem, The Cambridge companion to Raphael, Cambridge, 2008; Bury, M., “Perugino, Raphael and the Decoration of the Stanza dell’Incendio”, in Rethinking the High Renaissance: the culture of the visual arts in sixteenth-century Rome, ed. J. Burke, Farnham, 2012; Wingfield, K. Butler, “Networks of Knowledge: Inventing Theology in the Stanza della Segnatura”, Studies in Iconography 38 (2017): 174-221 (with earlier bibliography).
6. Analyse Michelangelo’s attitude to sculpting the naked male body with a comparison of the Bacchus (1496, Bargello, Florence), the David (1501-4, Accademia, Florence) and the Risen Christ (1521, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome). What continuities and/or differences in his composition and carving of the figure can you see, and how would you interpret them?Lieberman, R., “Regarding Michelangelo’s Bacchus”, Artibus et Historiae 22 (2001): 65-74; Minter, E., “Discarded Deity: The Rejection of Michelangelo’s Bacchus and the Artist’s Response”, Renaissance Studies 28 (2014): 443-58; Wallace, W. E., “Michelangelo’s Risen Christ”, The Sixteenth Century Journal 28 (1997): 1251-80.
7. Discuss the role of illusionism in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. How does the painted architecture relate to the physical site, and how does it shape the experience of the viewer?
8. Discuss Michelangelo’s use of foreshortening in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. You may chose to focus on a specific figure or scene (eg Jonah, Crucifixion of Haman) or on the ceiling as a whole. Think about how and where foreshortening is used, what it contributes to meaning and its effect on the viewer. Barolsky, P., “Looking closely at Michelangelo’s seers”, Source: Notes in the History of Art, 16 (1997): 31-4
9. Analyse the significance of the ignudi in the Sistine ceiling. In your estimation, how do they relate to the rest of the ceiling?
Dixon, J. W., The Christ of Michelangelo: An Essay on Carnal Spirituality, Atlanta, 1994 (section on ignudi); Joost-Gaugier, C., “Michelangelo’s ignudi and the Sistine ceiling as a symbol of law and justice”, Artibus et historiae 17 (1996): 19-43; Emison, P., “The Ignudo as Proto-Capriccio”, Word & image 14 (1998); Butler, K., “The Immaculate Body in the Sistine Ceiling”, Art History 32 (2009): 250-89.
10. In Michelangelo’s art, “the body is an actor in a drama of the spirit and the spirit remains permanently unsatisfied. Michelangelo’s figures are preoccupied with loss, aspiration, or striving. However beautiful, the body in Michelangelo’s work remains the carcere terreno [the earthly/fleshy prison of the immortal soul].” (Paul Joannides, Michelangelo and his influence. Drawings from Windsor Castle, Cambridge, 1996) Would you agree with this assessment? Argue your case with reference to at least two of Michelangelo’s works, in any medium.Saslow, J., The poetry of Michelangelo: an annotated translation, New Haven, 1991; Agoston, L. “Sonnet, Sculpture, Death: The Medium of Michelangelo’s Self-Imaging”, Art History 20 (1997): 534-55.
11. Analyse the interaction of sculpture and architecture in Michelangelo’s Medici chapel, San Lorenzo, Florence (also called the New Sacristy). What are the themes of the chapel and how are they conveyed? Ackerman, J., The architecture of Michelangelo, any edition; Steinberg, L., “Michelangelo’s Medici Madonna and Related Works”, Burlington Magazine 113 (1971): 146, 149-15; Wallace, W.E., ed., Michelangelo: selected scholarship in English, vol. 3, San Lorenzo, Hamden, 1995; Nelson, J., “Poetry in stone. Michelangelo’s ducal tombs in the New Sacristy”, in Gaston, R. and L. Waldman eds, San Lorenzo: A Florentine Church, Florence, 2017 (with earlier bibliography; on his academia page)
12. How has the recent cleaning of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement affected our understanding of the work? How does Michelangelo’s fresco draw upon or depart from earlier depictions of the Last Judgement, and how does the fresco respond to (or deny) the dictates of its site?
Wallace, W.E., ed., Michelangelo: selected scholarship in English, vol. 2, The Sistine Chapel, Hamden, 1995; Polzer, J., “Michelangelo’s Sistine Last Judgment and Buffalmacco’s murals in the Campo Santo, Pisa”, Artibus et Historiae 69/XXV (2014): 53-77; Danto, A., “Restoration and meaning”, in his What Art Is, New Haven, 2013, 53-75 (chapter can be downloaded through JSTOR: www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bfhx.5 ); Leader, A., “Michelangelo’s Last Judgement: the culmination of papal propaganda in the Sistine Chapel”, Studies in Iconography 27 (2006): 103-156; Hall, M., ed, Michelangelo’s Last Judgement, Cambridge, 2005. For the iconography of the Last Judgement, see at least one of the following: Cavendish, R., Visions of heaven and hell, London, 1977; McDannell, C. and B. Lang, Heaven: a history, New York, 1988; The iconography of heaven, ed. C. Davidson, Kalamazoo, 1994; The iconography of hell, ed. C. Davidson and T. Seiler, Kalamazoo, 1992.
For all Michelangelo questions, see, in addition to tute readings & recent monographs (Hirst, Hughes & Wallace especially recommended), the selected articles in Wallace, W.E., ed., Michelangelo: selected scholarship in English, 5 vols, 1995. For a good overview with sensitive analysis and lists of most important studies, see the essay on Michelangelo by Hughes in Grove Art Online.
13. A recent exhibition of sixteenth-century Florentine art (The Cinquecento in Florence, Strozzi Palace, 2017/18) opened with a stunning display of three incredibly powerful representations of the dead Christ: Rosso Fiorentino’s Deposition from Volterra (1521); Pontormo’s Deposition/Entombment/Lamentation from the Capponi Chapel, Santa Felicita, Florence (1525-28) and Agnolo Bronzino’s Lamentation (Besançon, c. 1543-45). Conduct your own comparative analysis of these three paintings, focusing on what you see as their commonalities and differences, both thematic and visual. How does each artist visualise their subject, what comparsions and/or differences do you see, and what does this comparison tell us about the significance of the subject of the dead Christ in Renaissance art and devotion? Falciani, C. and A. Natali, The Cinquecento in Florence: ‘modern manner’ and Counter Reformation, Florence, 2017 (on order); Franklin, D., Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550, New Haven, 2001. For individual artists, see tute readings, entries in Oxford Art Online & artist monographs. A recent article on Pontormo’s painting (w references to earlier scholarship and a new proposition re the subject): Wasserman, J., “Pontormo in the Capponi Chapel in Santa Felicita in Florence”, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 53 (2009): 35-72. For discussion of representations of the dead Christ, consult at least one of the following studies: Steinberg, L., “Metaphors of love and birth in Michelangelo’s Pietàs”, in Studies in Erotic Art, ed. T. Bowie, New York, 1970 (photocopy in Schaeffer Library); idem, “Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà: the missing leg twenty years after”, Art Bulletin 71 (1989): 480-505; idem, The sexuality of Christ in Renaissance art and in modern oblivion, London, 1983 (also available as a full issue of the journal October, 25, Summer 1983), or rev. ed. 1996; Nagel, A., Michelangelo and the reform of art, Cambridge, 2000; Finaldi, G., The image of Christ, (exh. cat.), London, 2000; Macgregor, N. and E. Langmuir, Seeing salvation: images of Christ in art, London, 2000.
14 “In the work of Florentine artists such as Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Rosso and Bronzino, colours appear purer, intense and highly saturated, more striking and deliberately studied than anything in Venetian painting; but for Venetian artists, these colours come, as it were, straight from the box and seem hardly affected by the brushes by which they are applied.” (David Rosand, Painting in sixteenth-century Venice, New York, 1982) How would you characterise the differing approaches to the use of colour in Tuscan and Venetian painting in this period? Argue with reference to specific works by at least one Tuscan and one Venetian artist. Huse, N. and W. Wolters., The art of Renaissance Venice. Architecture, sculpture, and painting, 1460- 1590, Chicago, 1990; Humfrey, P., Painting in Renaissance Venice, New Haven, 1995; Caron, L., “The use of color by Rosso Fiorentino”, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 19 (1988): 355-78:Hall, M., Color and meaning: practice and theory in Renaissance painting, Cambridge, 1992; Hills, P., Venetian colour: marble, mosaic, painting and glass, 1250-1550, New Haven, 1999; Franklin, D., Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550, New Haven, 2001.
15. Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck (Florence, Uffizi, 1534-40) is often seen as the quintessential Mannerist picture, deliberately strange and unorthodox. For John Shearman, it typified the idea of Mannerism as the ‘stylish style’ (a detail was used for the cover of his book), but the painting’s qualities have also been interpreted in other ways, particularly now that Mannerism as a cateogory or period in art history is coming increasingly under re-examination. What is your opinion of this work?
See articles on Mannerism and on the artist in Oxford Art Online, with further references to follow up; Shearman, J., Mannerism, 1967; Cropper, E., “On Beautiful Women, Parmigianino, Petrarchismo, and the Vernacular Style”, Art Bulletin 58 (1976): 374–94; Mirollo, J., “Where’er you walk: my lady’s beautiful foot and generative footsteps: the literary context of Parmigianino’s Madonna del bel piede”, in Di Cesare, M., ed, Reconsidering the Renaissance, Binghamton, 1992; Hall, M., After Raphael. Painting in Central Italy in the sixteenth century, Cambridge, 1999; monographs by Gould (1994), Vaccaro (2002); Ekserdjian, D., et al, Correggio and Parmigianino: art in Parma during the sixteenth century, exh. cat., Milan, 2016; Olszewski, E., Parmigianino’s Madonna of the long neck: a grace beyond the reach of art, Philadelphia, 2014.
16. Analyse the relationship between three sixteenth-century altarpieces and their original settings, including Titian’s Frari Assumption as one of your examples. How does the composition in each case respond to the dictates of the original site (or what can be deduced regarding the site, if the painting is no longer in situ) and how does it engage the beholder?Shearman, J., Only connect…: art and the spectator in the Italian Renaissance, Princeton, 1992 [also available electronic edition]; Painting in sixteenth-century Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, Cambridge, 1997 [earlier editions use variant title, Painting in cinquecento Venice]; Humfrey, P., The altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, New Haven, 1993; Meilman, P., Titian and the altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, Cambridge, 2000; Meilman, P., ed., The Cambridge companion to Titian, Cambridge, 2004.
18. “Federico Gonzaga, commissioning a work from Sebastiano del Piombo, wrote in 1524 that he did not want ‘saint’s stuff [cose di sancti]’ but ‘some pictures which are attractive and beautiful to look at’. He seems to have been part of a trend.” (Peter Burke, The Italian Renaissance, 165) What explanations can you offer for the enormous popularity of representations of classical mythology for sixteenth-century patrons? What attitudes to classical antiquity are at work here, what kinds of subjects are chosen, and how did artists respond to the task? You should include works by at least two different artists.
Weiss, R., The Renaissance discovery of classical antiquity, Oxford, 1969; Hope, C., “Classical antiquity and Venetian Renaissance subject matter”, in New interpretations of Venetian Renaissance painting, ed. F. Ames Lewis, London, 1994, 51-62; Barolsky, P., “As in Ovid, so in Renaissance art”, Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998): 451-74; cf same author’s later book on topic, Ovid and the metamorphoses of modern art, from Botticelli to Picasso, New Haven, 2014; Brown, P. Fortini, Venice and antiquity. The Venetian sense of the past, New Haven, 1996; Freedman, L., Classical myths in Italian Renaissance painting, Cambridge, 2011.
19. “The technique of Titian’s late works has been described as proto-Impressionist. Vasari may have been nearer the mark when he described Titian’s final style as looking like macchie (‘blots’)”. (Cecil Gould, ‘Titian’, Oxford Art Online) How would you characterise the handling of paint in Titian’s late paintings? What explanations can you suggest for his technique in these works, and what is the effect on how we view the paintings?
In addition to monographs, see Rosand, D., “Titian the the eloquence of the brush”, Artibus et Historiae 2 (1981): 85-96; idem, The meaning of the mark: Leonardo and Titian, 1988; Ferino Pagden, S. and G. Nepi Sciré, eds, Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting exh. cat., Vienna, 2007; Woods Marsden, J., ed, Titian: materiality, likeness, istoria, Turnhout, 2007; Sohn, P., The Artist Grows Old: The Aging of Art and Artists in Italy, 1500–1800, New Haven, 2007
20-24: General references for architecture questions:
Heydenreich, L.H. and W. Lotz, Architecture in Italy, 1400-1600 (Pelican History of Art), any edition OR Lotz, W., Architecture in Italy, 1500-1600, any edition (the same text in a separate edition) [a classic; recommended you start here for any architectural topic, before consulting more recent surveys, monographs & individual studies]; Howard, D., The architectural history of Venice, New York, 1981; Wittkower, R., Architectural principles in the age of humanism, any edition; Partridge, L., The Renaissance in Rome, 1400-1600, London, 1996; Rowe, C. and L. Satkowski, Italian architecture of the 16th century, New York, 2002; Hopkins, A., Italian architecture: from Michelangelo to Borromini, London, 2002; Frommel, C., Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, London, 2007.
20. Compare and contrast Sansovino’s Library (designed 15in Venice with Palladio’s Basilica (Palazzo della Ragione, begun 1548) in Vicenza. What would you see as the key similarities and differences, and how would you explain them?
See entries on architects and on their respective cities in Oxford Art Online, with further bibliographies; Lieberman, R., Renaissance architecture in Venice, 1450-1540, New York, 1982; Huse, N. and W. Wolters., The art of Renaissance Venice. Architecture, sculpture, and painting, 1460-1590, Chicago, 1990; Howard, D., Jacopo Sansovino: architecture and patronage in Renaissance Venice, New Haven, 1974; Johnson, E., “Jacopo Sansovino, Giacomo Torelli, and the Theatricality of the Piazzetta in Venice”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 59 (2000): 436–53.
21. Analyse Palladio’s Palazzo Chiericanti, paying attention to the ways in which the design responds to and remakes the site on which it was built.
22. Analyse the handling of space in the work of at least two sixteenth-century architects, with reference to specific buildings or projects, paying attention to the treatment of the wall, the relationship of solid to void, the role of geometry and/or proportion and the use of the orders. Possible architects include (but not limited to) Bramante, Giulio Romano, Michelangelo, Sansovino, Palladio, Vasari.
23. Analyse the interplay between architecture and landscape in one or more sixteenth-century Italian villas. How would you characterise this relationship, and what would you see as the guiding ideas (for example, ideas about the classical past, about nature, culture, artifice, order, disorder)? [nb this list is not definitive or mandatory, included as suggestions only, which may or may not apply to your particular examples] Ackerman, J., The villa. Form and ideology of country houses, London, 1990; Coffin, D., The villa in the life of Renaissance Rome, Princeton, 1979; Lazzaro, C., The Italian Renaissance garden, New Haven, 1990; Holberton, P., Palladio’s villas: life in the Renaissance countryside, Lonon, 1990; Coffin, D., Gardens and gardening in papal Rome, Princeton, 1991; Lazzaro, C., “Gendered Nature and Its 7 Representation in Sixteenth-Century Garden Sculpture,” in Looking at Italian Renaissance Sculpture, ed. Sarah McHam, New York, 1998, 246-273 (on her academia page); Boucher, B., “Nature and the Antique in the Work of Andrea Palladio”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 59 (2000): 296-311; Morgan, L., “The Monster in the Garden: The Grotesque, the Gigantic, and the Monstrous in Renaissance Landscape Design”, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes 31 (2011): 167-80; Lazzaro, C., “River Gods: Personifying Nature in Sixteenth-Century Italy,” Renaissance Studies, special issue: ‘Locus amoenus: Gardens and Horticulture in the Renaissance,’ ed. Alexander Samson, 25.1 (February 2011): 70-94.