Week 1: Introduction: Giotto in his Time
We examine Giotto’s early altarpieces and architectural projects, setting them within the historical, social and religious framework of the early Italian Renaissance, and taking into account earlier influences from the byzantine and late gothic traditions.
Week 2: The Arena Chapel
We consider Giotto’s radically innovative frescoes in the Arena Chapel in Padua, commissioned by the wealthy Enrico Scrovegni. An important milestone in the development of western art, this was Giotto's first mature masterpiece. We look at the chapel’s lateral images, which narrate the lives of Mary (beginning with her parents, Joachim and Anna) and of Christ, as well as his Annunciation by the altar, and his epic Last Judgment on the entrance wall.
Week 3: Assisi and Florence
We look in depth at two of Giotto’s most magisterial and influential religious commissions: the fresco cycles in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. In following these complex narratives, we analyze Giotto’s deployment of composition, iconography and illusory spatial depth.
Week 4: Giotto's Followers and Legacy
We see how Giotto served as an inspiration for generations of artists who came after him. We consider his impact on such followers as Simone Martini, Taddeo Gaddi, Giovanni da Milano and other Trecento masters, as well as on other leading artists of the Sienese school, notably Duccio di Buoninsegna, Taddeo di Bartolo and Ambrogio Lorenzetti.
For certificate students only:
Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”
Textbooks and learning materials
Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.