Lectures on Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture



Venice – The Architecture of a Renaissance City

Summary

This lecture looks at the development of Venice from the origins of the city,
to the architecture of Andrea Palladio at the end of the sixteenth century.

Synopsis

The waters of the Venetian Lagoon have been both saviour and enemy. Their
protection enabled the city to become a magnificent Republic, a leader in
global trade and a highly successful world power. All of this is reflected in the
architecture her citizens created, from the delicate Gothic that so enchanted
Ruskin to the elegant classicism of Palladio. Now those same waters challenge
the city's very existence.

This lecture covers the origins of Venice, the difficulties of building a city within
the lagoon, and the idiosyncratic architecture that characterised the Venetian
style. It also looks at the development of Renaissance architecture in Venice and
explores the contributions of Jacopo Sansovino and Andrea Palladio.

A related special interest day looks beyond the Renaissance city to the
challenges of her later history and the modern race to save Venice from the
encroaching sea.

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Donatello and the Sculpture of the Italian Renaissance

Summary

Discover the amazing power and variety of the sculpture of Donatello, one of the
most important artists of the early Renaissance.

Synopsis

Donatello may have been born, in Florence, over 600 years ago, but his
sculpture is so powerful that it still speaks directly to us today. Working alongside
masters such as Brunelleschi, Ghiberti and Masaccio, he was one of the
pioneers of the Renaissance and helped to change the way people looked at the
world. From delicate idealism and startling realism, to the astonishing emotional
force of his later works, this survey looks at the huge range of his sculpture,
setting it against the vivid and colourful world of Italian politics in the age of the
Renaissance.

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A Family Affair – Florence and the House of Medici

Summary

A chance to meet some of the world's most important art patrons, and one of the
most colourful dynasties in Renaissance Italy.

Synopsis

The names 'Florence' and 'Medici' are inextricably linked with each other. From
the late 1300s to 1737 the family 'advised', ruled, were exiled, returned and
ruled again in Florence in continuing cycles, eventually stamping their authority
on the city with authoritarian firmness. At the same time they were responsible
for helping to create one of the most vibrant artistic centres of the Renaissance
and beyond. This is a story filled with larger-than-life characters and great art
alongside stirring historical events, occasional assassinations, and the eventual
decline of a remarkable dynasty.

This topic is also very popular as a special interest day.

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Raphael; Genius of the Renaissance in Rome

Summary

Find out why, for over 500 years, Raphael has been considered as the acme of
artistic perfection and a profound influence on artists from Velasquez to Picasso.

Synopsis

Raphael died in Rome on Good Friday, 1520, aged only 37. The Pope, his most
prestigious patron, was devastated and earth tremors were felt around the city.
He was buried in the Pantheon – Rome's most important classical building –
a fitting tribute to an artist who rivalled the greatness of the Ancients. (He was
also charming, handsome, clean and polite – which couldn't be said for all
Renaissance polymaths). This lecture looks at his short but astonishing career
as painter, architect, administrator and superb draughtsman and considers his
lasting influence on subsequent artists.

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From Carpenter to Count: the Rise and Rise of Andrea Mantegna

Summary

This lecture looks at the art of Mantegna, a stern and taciturn man with a passion
for antiquity, who created some of the most beautiful images of the Renaissance.

Synopsis

Andrea Mantegna was a remarkable artist; a brilliant painter and draughtsman,
pioneering printmaker, portrait painter of rare acuity and devotee of all things
classical. He was also quite capable of hiring thugs to beat up his enemies and
taking anybody who annoyed him to court.

Despite the drawbacks of his character, he is one of the most compelling
artists of the Italian Renaissance, developing new ideas about storytelling and
perspective and bridging the gap between the linear style of Florence and the
painterly colourism of Venice.

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Between Angels and Devils: Botticelli and Renaissance Florence

Summary

Discover the story of one of the most popular artists of the Renaissance, who
languished in obscurity for centuries until rediscovered in the 19th century.

Synopsis

Sandro Botticelli is now one of the most popular painters of the Italian
Renaissance. His beautiful 'Primavera' and elegant 'Birth of Venus' are amongst
the best known images from the Florentine Golden Age, but the times he
lived in were volatile and dangerous and his art masked political turmoil and
religious unease. As Florence moved from the luxurious era of the Medici to the
religious austerity of Savonarola, Botticelli and his painting became caught up in
this great change - but who were the angels or the devils in this story – and on
which side was Botticelli?

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Bernini and Baroque Rome

Summary

The portraits, fountains and mythological sculptures of GianLorenzo Bernini are
some of the most exuberant and joyous sculptures ever made.

Synopsis

Rome is a city of many glories, from distant antiquity onwards, and amongst her
remarkable churches, fountains and monuments are the spectacular works of
GianLorenzo Bernini. This complex, driven artist was the friend and confidant
of Popes and princes, a child prodigy and a prolific, if understandably arrogant,
genius. Find out about his sculpture, paintings, fountains, architecture – even
plays – but also discover why such exuberance and magnificence became
powerful weapons in a religious and political propaganda war.

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Sir Christopher Wren and the English Baroque

Summary

St Paul's Cathedral is an icon of Britain. This lecture tells the story of its
creator – the mathematical genius who became Britain's greatest architect – Sir
Christopher Wren.

Synopsis

St Paul's Cathedral has become one of the icons of Britain; from the paintings
of Canaletto to photographs of the Blitz, it rises above London. In this lecture
we look at the remarkable genius of its creator, Sir Christopher Wren: scientist,
anatomist, mathematician, architect and urban planner. Set amidst the lively and
vibrant period of the Restoration and the Great Fire, find out how he transformed
the skyline of London and created a new language for architects in England.

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