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Period Band: B
Curatorial Rating: 1

Art in Venice from Bellini to Titian

Tutor: Gabriele Matino


This intermediate module will explore the principal developments in painting and sculpture in Venice from c.1470 until c.1580 in their geographical and historical contexts. In order to understand the special characteristics of Venetian art this course will examine the extraordinary topographical, social, economic and political conditions that influenced artistic production in the city.

Study of individual artists such as Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione and Titian will be linked to major themes such as the cityscape, the function of the altarpiece, contemporary attitudes to sexuality and the development of the nude, the notion of decorum and its influence on art, the role of ritual and ceremony in the city. The disegno-colore debate will be the focus for discussion of art theory in sixteenth-century Venice, which sought self-definition in contradistinction to Rome and Florence.


By the end of the course students should have acquired:

  • a familiarity with the works of art
  • a knowledge of the topographical, climactic, socio-economic and cultural conditions that influenced the production of art in Venice
  • the ability to analyse the works of art in terms of contemporary theoretical, art-historical and religious debates

Preliminary reading

Cultural and Historical Studies

  • *** Brown, Patricia Fortini, The Renaissance in Venice, Everyman Art Library, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1997
  • Hale, John, ed., Renaissance Venice, London 1973
  • Chambers, David S., The Imperial Age of Venice 1380-1580, Thames and Hudson, London 1970
  • Finlay, Robert, Politics in Renaissance Venice, New Brunswick 1980
  • Lane, Frederic, Venice: A Maritime Republic, Baltimore and London 1973
  • Logan, Olive, Culture and Society in Venice 1470-1790, London 1972
  • Muir, Edward, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice, Princeton 1981
  • Pullan, Brian, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice, Oxford 1971


  • *** Brown, Patricia Fortini, Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 1988
  • Goffen, Rona, Giovanni Bellini, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1986
  • Hope, Charles, Titian, London 1980
  • Hills, Paul, Venetian Colour, Yale University Press, New Haven and London 1999 [an inspiring approach and v. recent]
  • Humfrey, Peter, Painting in Renaissance Venice, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1995  [ NOT highly recommended but affordable]
  • Humfrey, Peter, The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1993
  • *** Huse, Norbert and Wolters, Wolfang, The Art of Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Sculpture and Painting 1460-1590, Chicago University Press, Chicago 1990
  • Martineau, Jane and Hope, Charles, eds., The Genius of Venice, 1500-1600, London 1983
  • Wilde, Johannes, Venetian Art from Bellini to Titian, Oxford 1974


Module code HOA00012I