What is the course about?
Behind every great Renaissance painting is an equally astounding, some would say greater, drawing. Indeed, artists were judged firstly not by the quality of their paintings, but by their grasp of and skill in drawing. But although there are some extraordinary examples that survive, many did not.
This course will bring together some of those paintings with their accompanying surviving drawings to demonstrate that the importance of drawing upon the very fabric of the Renaissance cannot be underestimated, because without drawings there could be no Italian Renaissance. By examining how this, at first, purely functional object was developed, made and used, we will discover how they would eventually come to be regarded as works of art in their own right.
What previous students liked most about this course: .
“Greatly improved my knowledge of the Renaissance period and techniques of drawing.”
What will we cover?
Each week will focus on the different materials and techniques used to create some of these sublime drawings - such as vellum parchment, lead-white, black and red chalks, charcoal and metalpoint - and the variety of effects that were obtained.
The course will also cover the development of drawing plans for patrons to presentation drawings, and the use and function of drawing books. The drawings of well known artists such as Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Leonardo (1452-1519) will be discussed and analysed, however, this course will also look at the antecedents and lesser known contemporaries of these great artist, such as: Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo (about 1432-1498 and about 1441-before 1496), Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), Pontormo (1494-1557), Andrea del Verrocchio (about 1435-1488) and many others.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Demonstrate an understanding of the major motivations of the artists and the uses of their drawings
- State in terms of chronology, the span of the period
- identify different styles and techniques of drawings
- Differentiate between the artists' different styles and choices of medium
- Identify Renaissance influences
- Speak about a single drawing in terms of its medium.
What previous students have achieved on this course: .
“I have more information about the social content in which the paintings were commissioned and used.”
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course and does not assume any previous study or reading, but you will need a good grasp of English. You will gain more from the course if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be classroom-based and will be taught in a seminar format, with the use of slides and handouts. There will also be a museum visit. Making your own further museum visits, and reading outside the course, will greatly enhance your experience.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Limited book purchase recommended but optional; a bibliography will be provided.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
VB129 - Iconography and iconology: secrets of the old masters revealed
VB427 - The rise and fall of the Italian Renaissance.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details