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Florence is one of the world’s most breathtaking cities — a mecca for art and history lovers, and the birthplace of the Renaissance, home to figures including Michelangelo, da Vinci, Giotto, Donatello, the Medici family and more. How did this small Italian city become a hub of artistic genius?
Following her fascinating course on Rome, art and architectural history professor Dr. Jessica Maier returns to explore the multiple factors that converged in Florence beginning in the late 1200s, putting the city on the road to becoming the capital of the Renaissance. Maier chronicles the astonishing advancements made in the 15th and 16th centuries in art, politics, belief and knowledge, resulting in a cultural high-water mark that has scarcely if ever been equaled.
Students will come away with a deeper understanding of the factors that fueled the birth of the Renaissance in Florence, all examined through the lens of art.
In the early 1400s, art patrons sought to elevate their status by acquiring the best works of art, while artists like Masaccio, Donatello, and later, Michelangelo, were spurred to ever greater heights of accomplishment as they sought to outdo each other in the eyes of the public.
We will explore two quintessential Florentine art forms: altarpieces and portraits. Glorious altarpieces by artists like Giotto, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico became sites for artistic invention and expression. Portraits were private and reserved for the elite, with works by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and Leonardo da Vinci elevating real people to the status of icons.
Combining office and residence, the Florentine palace was a public showcase of family power and private haven. We will trace these themes through a virtual walking tour of Florence’s most important palaces and travel within their walls to see the artworks destined for only the most exclusive class of viewers – including Donatello’s “David” and Botticelli’s “Primavera.”
One family dominated political life in Renaissance Florence: the Medici, who set the tone for patronage and artistic trends for centuries. We will look at how the Medici vied with staunch republicans and with charismatic religious zealots like Savonarol – and how in the hands of all, art became the most powerful weapon.
Sessions will take place on April 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 1-2 pm ET. Sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing by those who register.
Programs taking place online:An access link will be emailed to you after purchase.
Programs taking place in our NYC facilities:Please read our safety guidelines before visiting our building.
Programs taking place online and in our NYC facilities:Please select which experience you wish to participate in when registering. Online participants will be emailed an access link after purchase. In-person participants should read our safety guidelines before attending the program.
Jessica Maier: Rome: Reinvention and the Eternal City
Jessica Maier: Florence, Epicenter of the Renaissance