This survey course chronicles the dazzling rise to power of Italian cities from the twelfth to the early fifteenth century. Politically, it details the struggle between the communes (Italy's city-republics) and the German emperors, the rise of the 'signori', the Italian contribution to the crusades, the establishment of the court and the unprecedented network that Italian merchants developed across the Mediterranean Sea.
Artistically, it explores the transformations from devotional icons to large secular frescos, and from wooden crucifixes to the papal sculptural tombs of the Trecento. The seminar will provide detailed analysis of the work of Nicola Pisano, Simone Martini, Giotto, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, and Vitale da Bologna, among others. Contrary to similar surveys, it also situates the Italian peninsula within the larger Mediterranean and European artistic milieu. Italy, after all, did not grow in isolation but in continuous exchange with its geographical surroundings.
We'll then see how Venice appropriated Syrian rock-crystal ewers, Pisa employed a Greek architect for its enormous cathedral and Sicily developed a multi-lingual culture that produced Palermo's original Palatine Chapel.
By the end of the module, students should have:
Module code HOA00059I