The beastly Renaissance - the meaning of animals in Renaissance art
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: VB586
Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)
What is the course about?
Lambs, elephants, dogs, camels, cats, weasels and monkeys, not to mention unicorns, dragons and angels; these are just some of the creatures that appear frequently in Renaissance art. Real and imaginary creatures fill nativity scenes, accompany saints, sit on the laps of noble men and women, decorate furniture and sculpture and hide on stairways. Why are they there? What do they mean? How did artists visualise animals they might never have seen, such as elephants, or imaginary creatures like dragons?
If you have ever looked at an artwork and wondered about any of these things, join us to explore the paintings of Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Leonardo, amongst others, to find some answers.
This art history course will discuss the meaning of animals in different genres of Renaissance painting and sculpture. We will study animals in portraits, the role of animals in narrative scenes and how artists included depictions of animals to showcase their skills. We will explore the development of animal painting from the use of medieval model books to drawing from life, and the artists’ creation of mythical beasts.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The widespread depiction of animals in a wide variety of genres and mediums in Renaissance art
• The reasons for the inclusion of representations of real and imaginary animals
• The development from the use of medieval model books to drawing from life in the Renaissance, exemplified in depictions of animals.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Give examples of animals depicted in several genres of Renaissance art
• Identify the meaning of animals depicted in two distinct genres, for example a portrait and a nativity scene
• Discuss confidently how depictions of animals illustrate the development from model books to life drawing in Renaissance art.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
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.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught online with slide presentations and group discussions. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course; these handouts will be available online/digitally for download, not printed out for you.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list provided.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
• VB575 - The Renaissance at Home - decorative art in the Italian Renaissance interior
• VB129 - Iconography and iconology: secrets of the old masters revealed
• VB313 - Focus on: iconography.
Lydia is an art historian specialising in the art and material culture of the Italian Renaissance. Lydia holds a BA in Renaissance history from the University of Warwick, and an MA in Art History from the University of Sussex. She was awarded her PhD from The Warburg Institute in 2020 for her thesis on artistic patronage in early modern Perugia. Lydia’s research interests centre on the Umbrian region of Italy and include confraternities, workshop practice, and the production of Tovaglie Perugine. She has taught at Sussex University and lectures widely on the Italian Renaissance. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.