Accessibility statement

The Domestic Interior in Italy c.1400-1550 - MST00030M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Information currently unavailable
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

The private nature of domestic interiors and the tendency to adapt and transform them according to the requirements of each generation means that, until recently, they have been less studied than the architectural and design history of ecclesiastical and public buildings. Likewise, facades and ground-plans have long been studied as the foundation stones of architectural history, but a holistic approach to interiors encompassing the total decorative programme and material contents of houses can help provide answers to other sets of questions concerning the motives and habits of the occupants and the functions and meanings of objects in peoples lives.

This course looks behind the facade to investigate the interiors of houses and their contents, seeking to understand the inhabitants and their value systems by studying the material culture of their homes. As the period usually identified with the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the early modern world, it is often associated with the emergence of a consumer society and the nuclear family. These broad historical problems impinge on the study of interiors as we analyse the proliferation of luxury objects and the configuration of the household.

The module begins by looking at how the messages conveyed by the interiors and exteriors of houses relate to each other and the role that so-called private buildings play in the projection of families identities. We shall then explore themes such as lay piety and devotional practices within the home, rites of passage and their representation, the chivalrous household, the collection and consumption of objects, theories of magnificence and modes of display, seclusion and secrecy, rural subject matter at the villa. The categories of object to be studied will include tableware, tapestries, Madonnas, portraits, birth trays and marriage chests, in Florentine houses such as the Palazzo Medici, the Medici villas of Careggi and Fiesole, the Palazzo Corsi-Horne and the Sassetti villa at La Pietra; and in Venice at the Ca dOro and the Palazzo Grimani.

Module learning outcomes

  • a familiarity with a range of objects found in fifteenth and early sixteenth-century Italian houses
  • a knowledge of the socio-political and cultural conditions that influenced the shape and contents of domestic interiors and an ability to analyse the objects in relation to their historical context
  • an awareness of the varying approaches to this subject taken by art, architectural or cultural historians


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written and/or verbal feedback on draft essay; written report on final assessment within six weeks of submission and within two weeks of re-submission.

Indicative reading

Information currently unavailable

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.