Rebuilding the Renaissance Podcast

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Rebuilding The Renaissance podcast will explore the development of the art, architecture, culture and history in Italy, from ancient Roman times through the Renaissance. Listeners will develop an understanding of Italy’s role in the development of Western civilization and an ability to appreciate and understand works of art in their historical context.

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Episodes

Episode 70 – Theory – Classical Architectural Vocabulary

Episode Info: This episode examines the names and meanings of various Classical architectural structures and elements that were employed by Renaissance architects from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo.

Episode 69 – 360° With Dr. Peter Weller – Part II

Episode Info: This episode is the second part of my interview with celebrated Hollywood actor Dr. Peter Weller, where we discuss the subject of his doctorate, Italian food, and his acting career. Find out how the Renaissance man still finds …

Episode 68 – 360° With Dr. Peter Weller – Part I

Episode Info: This episode is the first of a two-part interview with the famous actor Peter Weller, who has starred in over 70 films and television programs, but who also holds a doctorate in Renaissance art history. Find out how …

Episode 67 – Florence: Brunelleschi and the Hospital of the Innocents

Episode Info: This episode examines the early part of Brunelleschi’s career and his first major architectural project. His revival of a Classical architectural vocabulary and logic revolutionized architecture in the late medieval European world, and would establish this new style …

Episode 66 – Florence: Donatello’s Crucifix and Prophet Statues (S. Croce/Museo Del Opera)

Episode Info: This episode explores how Donatello revolutionized sculpture in the early 15th century by using three of his most famous works to illustrate his new visual language of naturalism.

Episode 65 – Venice: The Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge

Episode Info: This episode explores the history and architecture of Venice’s most important thoroughfare and its surrounding churches and palaces, as well as one of the world’s most celebrated bridges – the Rialto – that has spanned the Grand Canal …

Episode 64 – Venice: Basilica of St. Mark and Doge’s Palace

Episode Info: This episode examines the history, architecture and importance of Italy’s most unique church. An example of Italo-Byzantine architecture, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy, was built primarily to house the relics of the evangelist and to serve as the …

Episode 63: Answers to Open Questions – Part III

Episode Info: This episode answers our third round of general questions. From dinner with historical personages, to my favorite restaurants and dishes in Italy, to saving Venice and its art, all the way down to how much “Leonardo” there is …

Episode 62 – Florence: Donatello’s St. George (Bargello)

Episode Info: This episode examines Donatello’s sculptural representation of the St. George subject for the Sword and Armor Guild at the church of Orsanmichele, although both sculpture and niche are in the Bargello Museum today. Not only was this first …

Episode 61: Florence – Donatello’s Marble “David” (Bargello)

Episode Info: This episode examines Donatello’s seminal heroic interpretation of the “David” subject in sculpture. Removed from its original context at the Duomo and inserted into a civic setting at the Palazzo Vecchio, the statue became the symbol of divine …

Episode 60: Florence – Cathedral Facade Sculptures

Episode Info: This episode examines the statues that were produced by the likes of Arnolfo Di Cambio, Nanni Di Banco and Donatello and adorned the original facade of Florence cathedral. These extraordinary statues reflect the transition from the International Gothic …

Episode 59 – Venice: La Serenissma – The History of the Republic

Episode Info: This episode explores the history of the world’s most unique city and the organization of the longest lasting republic of all time. From the original refugees who settled on the islands in the ancient world, to the theft …

Episode 58 – Florence: Uffizi Gallery: International Gothic Style Paintings

Episode Info: This episode explores the paintings in the Uffizi Gallery collection that best embody the principles of that style that marks the transition between the Gothic and Renaissance worlds, known as the “International Gothic Style.” This style combines the …

Episode 57: Florence – North Doors of Florence Baptistry

Episode Info: This episode examines the “North Doors” of Florence Baptistry that were produced by Lorenzo Ghiberti between 1403-1423 as a result of the famous competition of 1401 won by the same artist. The same International Gothic Style attributes that …

Episode 56: Florence – Competition Panels (Bargello)

Episode Info: This episode examines the event that sparked the Renaissance – the famous competition between Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi in 1401 for the contract for a set of bronze doors of Florence Baptistry. These two Renaissance giants produced …

Episode 55: Answers to Open Questions – Part II

Episode Info: This episode will answer many of the questions proposed by my listeners. From how the frescoes on the dome of Florence cathedral were executed, to how the artist Caravaggio died, to the Kenneth Clark vs. John Berger controversy …

Episode 54: Florence: Santa Maria Novella – Strozzi Chapel

Episode Info: This episode examines the beautiful pictorial decorations in the 14th-century Strozzi Chapel in Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy by the brothers Andrea (better known as “Orcagna”) and Nardo di Cione. Almost perfectly preserved after eight centuries, the …

Episode 53: Saints and Symbols

Episode Info: This episode examines the sometimes violent, often bizarre, and always fascinating representations of saints and martyrs in Italian medieval and Renaissance art. From St. Sebastian’s arrows to St. Lucy’s eyeballs to St. Lawrence’s barbecue grill, we shall discuss …

Episode 52 – Siena: Cathedral Pulpit by Nicola Pisano

Episode Info: This episode examines Nicola Pisano’s great sculptural pulpit in the cathedral in Siena, Italy. Carved five years after his pulpit in Pisa Baptistry, this work is much more Gothic in style, reflecting its highly decorative architectural surroundings. Yet, …

Episode 51: Florence – Uffizi Gallery – Medieval Paintings

Episode Info: This episode examines the medieval paintings in the extraordinary collection of paintings in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. Works by Giotto, Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti exemplify the move towards naturalism in this proto-Renaissance moment.

Episode 50 – 50th Episode Celebration!

Episode Info: This milestone episode celebrates the production of my 50th episode by telling you more about who I am, what I do, why I do it and I how I got there from both a personal and professional perspective.

Episode 49 – A Renaissance Christmas

Episode Info: This holiday episode explores the history and traditions of the world’s most popular holiday – Christmas! From St. Nick to Jesus’ infancy to candy canes, we discuss how both pagan and Christian traditions magically coalesced into the holiday …

Episode 48: Florence – San Miniato al Monte

Episode Info: This episode explores the history and examines the architecture of one of the most unique churches of medieval Europe. Consecrated in 1018 CE, the thousand-year-old Romanesque church of San Miniato in Florence, Italy houses an eclectic mix of …

Episode 47: Pisa – Baptistry Pulpit by Nicola Pisano

Episode Info: This episode examines one of the most extraordinary sculptures of the Middle Ages. Nicola Pisano revolutionized sculpture in the 13th century by introducing drama, psychology, classical motifs, anatomy and movement. Although few works exist by the great sculptor, …

Episode 46: Pisa – The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Episode Info: This episode explores the great Romanesque architectural monuments of the Tuscan city of Pisa. From its majestic marble cathedral, to its elegant circular baptistry, to what I like to call the greatest architectural disaster since Babylon – the …

Episode 45: Florence – The Baptistry Part II – Mosaics

Episode Info: This episode will examine the breathtaking mosaics that decorate the ceiling of Florence Baptistry. Epic in scale and subject matter, and excruciatingly meticulous in execution, the mosaics represent one of the greatest works of art of medieval Europe …

Episode 44: Florence – The Baptistry – Part I

Episode Info: This episode explores the history and architecture of what is, in local tradition, the most important monument in Florence, Italy. Nearly a millennium old, the Romanesque building has always been the heart of Florentine society and tradition.

Episode 43: Answers To Open Questions – Part I

Episode Info: This episode will answer the questions posed by various listeners on our social media platforms. From what sparked my own interest in the Renaissance, to whether Giotto or Michelangelo was more influential in shaping Renaissance art, all the …

Episode 42: Theory – Bronze Sculpture

Episode Info: This episode will examine the technique of bronze sculpture. From the making of the initial model, to the casting of the bronze, all the way down to the signature patination of the sculpture by the artist, discover just went …

Episode 41 – Theory: Marble Sculpture

Episode Info: This episode examines the sculptural medium of marble and how artists worked the stone. From the quarries of Carrara to the various tools used by the sculptor, we discover just what goes into producing a sculptural masterpiece in …

Episode 40 – Florence: Statues at Orsanmichele

Episode Info: This episode examines the extraordinary collection of statues on the outside of the church of Orsanmichele in Florence, Italy. Produced by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, such as Donatello, Ghiberti and Verrocchio, each statue reflects …

Episode 39 – Florence: Orsanmichele

Episode Info: This episode recounts the history behind the medieval–grain–market–turned–church of Orsanmichele in Florence, Italy. The building has always reflected the bustling commercial character of the city, first as a marketplace for grain and then as its official guild church.

Episode 38 – Florence: Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor

Episode Info: This episode explores the history and evolution of one of the world’s most famous bridges – the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. From ancient Roman times through to today, the bridge has served as a means of passage …

Episode 37 – Florence: Santa Maria Novella – The Spanish Chapel – Part II

Episode Info: This episode examines the beautiful fresco decoration inside of the Spanish Chapel in the convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy. These paintings are not only prime examples of art produced in the wake of the Black …

Episode 36: Florence: Santa Maria Novella – The Spanish Chapel – Part I

Episode Info: This episode examines the history and patronage of one of the great medieval churches of Florence: Santa Maria Novella. The seat of the Dominican Order in Florence, the rather severe style of the art in this church reflects …

Episode 35: San Gimignano: Black Death Paintings in the Collegiata

Episode Info: This episode examines one of the most sinister and violent fresco cycles of the Middle Ages in the cathedral or “Collegiata” of the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. Attributed to a mysterious artist named Barna Da Siena, the …

Episode 34: European History: The Black Death Part II

Episode Info: This episode examines the consequences of the Black Death on medieval European society. From religion, to economics, to art, the Black Death would forever change Europe and in many ways prepare the way for the coming of the …

Episode 33: European History: The Black Death Part I

Episode Info: This episode addresses one of the greatest natural calamities in human history – the Black Death. This “mother of all plagues” wiped out 1/3 of Europe’s population over just a couple of years and left an indelible mark …

Episode 32 – Padua – The Scrovegni Chapel Part 4: The Passion of Jesus Christ

Episode Info: This episode is the fourth and final episode addressing the extraordinary frescoes by Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. The paintings in this episode represent the climax of the visual narrative and depict the story of …

Episode 31: Padua – The Scrovegni Chapel Part 3: The Life and Mission of Jesus Christ

Episode Info: This episode examines the extraordinary visual representations of the “Life of Jesus Christ” created by the visionary painter Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy in the early 14th century.

Episode 30: Padua – The Scrovegni Chapel Part 2: The Last Judgement and the Life of the Virgin Mary

Episode Info: This episode will examine two of the extraordinary themes depicted in Giotto’s paintings in the Scrovegni Chapel: the surprisingly optimistic Last Judgement, and the startlingly cinematic Life of the Virgin Mary.

Episode 29: Padua – The Scrovegni Chapel Part 1: History

Episode Info: This episode will address the history of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy from its construction, to its patronage, to its decoration by the great painter Giotto. We will also discuss the modern system of conservation employed at …

Episode 28: Florence – Florence Cathedral

Episode Info: This episode will examine the architecture and explore the epic construction history of one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the world.

Episode 27: Siena – Palio

Episode Info: This episode will explore the thrilling horserace known as the Palio that takes place in the central medieval square of Siena twice a year. Winning the race is the most important objective of every Sienese person, and we …

Episode 26: Siena – The Allegory of Good and Bad Government

Episode Info: This episode will examine one of the most timeless and politically enlightening works of art of all time – Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good and Bad Government – which clearly reveals that the governing principles of an effective …

Episode 25: Siena – The Day the Virgin Mary Got into Politics (Simone Martini’s Maestà)

Episode Info: This episode will examine Simone Martini’s mural of the Maestà in the Hall of the Great Council in Siena’s town hall, known as the Palazzo Pubblico. The painting represents a milestone moment in the history of art where …

Episode 24: Siena – The Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza del Campo

Episode Info: This episode will analyze the history and architecture of the medieval town hall of Siena known as the Palazzo Pubblico, which was one of the seminal civic structures in Europe. We shall also examine what has been described …

Episode 23: Siena – City of the Virgin Mary (Battle of Montaperti/Duccio’s Maestà)

Episode Info: This episode examines the very special relationship that Siena has with the Virgin Mary and how this privileged relationship came about. We shall also discuss one of the most important paintings in the history of art – Duccio’s …

Episode 22: Siena – Siena Cathedral

Episode Info: This podcast will recount the extraordinary construction history and examine the striking architecture of one of the world’s most beautiful churches – the cathedral of Siena.

Episode 21: Siena – The Foundation Myth

Episode Info: This episode recounts the foundation myth of the great Tuscan city of Siena and how 14th-century Sienese government officials claimed to have discovered a document that traced Siena’s ancestry all the way back to Ancient Rome – but …

Episode 20: Theory – Put it in a Box – Defining the Periods in Western Art History

Episode Info: In this episode, I lay out the terms and dates of the major western historical and art historical periods, and various works of art and architecture with which they can be identified.

Episode 19: Theory – Stick it on a Wall – The Art of Fresco Painting

Episode Info: This podcast will explain the technique of fresco painting, the various advantages and disadvantages of this millennia-old method, as well as famous examples of this medium from the Renaissance.

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Episode 18: Florence – Giotto’s Frescoes in Santa Croce

Episode Info: This episode will analyze Giotto’s frescoes of “The Life of St. Francis” in the Bardi Chapel in Santa Croce. Giotto’s introduction of  naturalism, psychology, movement, emotion, and drama into his paintings was a groundbreaking innovation for medieval painting.

Episode 17: Florence – Celebrity Tombs in Santa Croce

Episode Info: This episode explores and examines what is arguably the world’s most impressive collection of celebrity tombs that is housed in the great Franciscan basilica, including the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.

Episode 16: Florence – The Basilica of Santa Croce

Episode Info: This episode explores the history and architecture of this great church in Florence, Italy and how the social and economic forces of medieval Florence contributed to making it the largest Franciscan church in the world.

Episode 15: Assisi – The Day the Earth Shook

Episode Info: This very personal podcast recounts my harrowing experience inside of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi when a severe earthquake struck the town in 1997 causing several vaults to collapse inside the Upper Basilica and killing four …

Episode 14: Assisi – The Basilica of San Francesco

Episode Info: This episode examines the history, architecture and decoration of great shrine to St. Francis in Assisi that was decorated by a veritable all-star team of late-13th/early-14th-century artists such as Cimabue, Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and perhaps even Giotto. …

Episode 13: Assisi – St. Francis of Assisi – How A Little Man Changed The World

Episode Info: This episode will examine the extraordinary life of one of the greatest revolutionaries in Western history: St. Francis of Assisi. It will also discuss how St. Francis’ revolutionary natural philosophy may have sparked the historical movement known as …

Episode 12: Florence – Speaking Statues in Piazza della Signoria

Episode Info: This episode will examine the extraordinary collection of sculptures in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy. From Donatello’s “Judith and Holofernes’ to Michelangelo’s “David” to Cellini’s “Perseus and Medusa”, each sculpture represents a chapter in the extraordinary …

Episode 11: Florence – Palazzo Vecchio

Episode Info: This episode will analyze the architecture of the building that was the seat of political power in medieval Florence – the Palazzo Vecchio – and the historical circumstances that led to its construction.

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