Week 1: Pisano and Ghiberti: The Doors of the Baptistery in Florence
We consider the three doors of the Baptistery. They record the evolution of Gothic sculpture into Renaissance sculpture, and the shift from a theology-centred to a human-centered world.
- Pisano’s doors record the life of the Baptist,
- Ghiberti’s first door records the life of Christ,
- The Gates of Paradise, Ghiberti’s second door, record the Life of Man.
Week 2: Donatello: Early Renaissance Sculpture
Ghiberti’s panels on the Baptistery doors is relief work, at times “in the round.” Donatello invents relievo schiacciato “squashed relief” for the St. George tabernacle predella. His sculptures move gothic mannerism into the Renaissance.
David with the Head with Goliath, 1432; The Penitent Magdalene, 1455
Week 3: Michelangelo: High Renaissance Sculpture
Donatello’s relievo schiacciato and psychological realism inform Michelangelo’s early piece, The Madonna on the Steps, 1490-92. Michelangelo’s Battle of the Centaurs and the Lapiths, 1492, and the Bacchus, 1497 summarize the influences of Ghiberti and Greco-Roman works. The stage is set for his triumph in Rome—the Pieta, 1499.
Moses, The Slaves, The Rondanini Pieta, Bandini Pietá, Medici Tombs
Week 4: Bologna and Cellini: Mannerist Sculpture
Giovanni Bologna (also known as Jean de Boulogne), was a Flemish sculptor who worked in Florence and was influenced by Michelangelo’s work. His work, in turn, influenced numerous mannerist sculptors in Italy and Northern Europe.
Benvenuto Cellini, a goldsmith under the patronage of the Medici wanting ‘to create something to rival Michelangelo’s David’ produced the stunning, larger-than-life bronze of Perseus with the Head of Medusa in the mid-1500s.
The Rape of the Sabine, 1574-82, Hercules and Nessus, 1599, The Equestrian Statue of Cosimo de Medici, Piazza della Signoria, and the Mercury, 1502.
Week 5: Bernini: Baroque Sculpture
Gianlorenzo Bernini reconstructed a number of fountains destroyed during the sack of Rome in 1527. His monumental and theatric fountains, especially The Four Rivers Fountain, set the foundation for many subsequent designs. Bernini’s sculpture, often incorporated into the fountains, drew inspiration from elements of Greek sculpture. His architectural accomplishments include St. Peter’s Square and the Baldecchino, and church facades.
Apollo and Daphne, Pluto and Persephone, David, and the busts of Scipio Borghese.
Week 6: Rodin: French Impressionist Sculpture
Rodin has correctly been called the last classical sculptor and the first modern sculptor. His most famous and celebrated works are directly influenced by Italian sculptors from the early Renaissance to neoclassicism, and draw from classical literature, Greek myths, history and Rodin’s contemporary world. His technique of leaving traces of the creation process on his sculptures align him with the Impressionists.
The Man with the Broken Nose, The Age of Bronze, The Gates of Hell, The Burghers of Calais, Balzac, The Monument to Victor Hugo