Money may make the world go round, but it is also crucial to the development of the arts. The Renaissance across Europe was financed by Church, commerce and conquest, and fuelled not only by connoisseurship but by the need for calculated propaganda. This course examines the diversity of a formative age and asks how and why it took the forms it did.
“Nicole’s previous series on The English Renaissance was wonderful and greatly enlarged my understanding of those turbulent times. She is an exceptional lecturer”
16 Jan 2025 Introduction
Who were the leaders of Renaissance taste? Why the arts? Who were the artists and how did they live? We begin by exploring some of the key themes and figures of this series to understand the ambitions and vocabulary which create an environment of magnificence.
23 Jan 2025 Cradle of The Renaissance
It is in Florence that the first flowering of Renaissance thought began. As a Republic, proud of its apparent democracy and with wealth based on trade and banking, individuals, families and corporate bodies vie with each other to establish themselves as the heirs of antiquity in thought and deed, sponsoring artists such as Donatello, Fra Angelico and Michelangelo.
30 Jan 2025 Venetian Splendour
Renaissance Venice was a superpower feared across Italy. Its lands and trade stretched across the peninsula and eastwards, creating an entirely distinctive visual culture, less influenced by Rome, more by the colour and drama of Byzantium as well as the misty, light-filled atmosphere of its own city. The painting created by these forces creates the unique magnificence of a heritage from Jacopo Bellini to Titian.
06 Feb 2025 Smoke and Mirrors
The Gonzaga of Mantua were relatively insignificant rulers, but by extraordinary and judicious art patronage they built collections which were the envy of contemporaries and carved a role far in excess of the slim reality. It is also in Mantua that the collection of Isabella d’Este gives us an insight into the role and opportunities of women patrons.
13 Feb 2025 Military Might
Urbino, Milan and Rimini were renown primarily for the mercenary forces of their rulers, until the money earned from such campaigns began to be turned to the arts. Whether as propaganda for the vicious and aggressive Sigismondo Malatesta in Rimini, or to feed the genuine connoisseurship of Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, these courts draw artists from the peninsula and beyond to project their image.
20 Feb 2025 Princes of the Church
The greatest power in all Renaissance Europe was that of the Church, and Popes were secular as well as spiritual leaders. As the mood of classical revival spreads, a series of pontiffs determined to recreate their city with the glory of the antique Empire through their patronage of artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bramante and Titian.
27 Feb 2025 Burgundy and the Low Countries
The Dukes of Burgundy were closely related to the French royal house, but, for well over a century, their importance far outstripped that of the monarchy. As rulers of the Low Countries they benefitted from its long, deep artistic heritage to commission manuscripts, tapestries, painting, sculpture and artefacts for themselves and to inspire such patronage in their subjects, working with artists such as Jan van Eyck and Claus Sluter.
06 Mar 2025 Germany- A Broader Reach
Like Italy, Germany was a series of semi-independent states but the power and money here, and therefore much of the art patronage, sprang from a successful merchant class, including the Fugger banking family, possibly the richest in all Europe, a family later to finance the ambitions of the Emperor. Generations of artisans created distinctive figures like Grunewald, Durer and Cranach, who were to create new forms for rulers, church and people.
13 Mar 2025 Renaissance on The Loire
France was among the first to adopt the forms of the Italian Renaissance, driven by military campaigns which brought back both treasures and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci. From the chateaux of the Loire Valley, built by monarchs and courtiers, to the great royal project of Fontainebleau, the nation was to become both a transmitter of new ideas and, in developing its own vocabulary, an inspiration.
20 Mar 2025 Whose Renaissance?
By the end of this period, it is clear that substance and sophistication express themselves through the arts. In Krakow, Madrid and London, new ideas and forms take root, as the powerful encourage native talent and lure artists from existing cultural centres to enhance and embed the aura of connoisseurship and enlightenment. We will look at the spread and significance of the Renaissance and sum up what we have seen.