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ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSE
“Discovering Donatello: His Life, Works, and Legacy”

CURRENT LIVE COURSE WITH DR. RUGGIERO

Dates: April 26 – June 2, 2021
Schedule:  Mondays & Wednesdays
Time:  11:00 am – 12:15 pm ET / 8:00 – 9:15 am PT AND/OR 7:00 – 8:15 pm ET / 4:00 – 5:15 pm PT
Contact Hours: 15 Hours
Credits: Certificate of Completion

To purchase this course on a payment plan of four monthly installments, please click here.

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Details

ONLINE ART HISTORY COURSE
Discovering Donatello: His Life, Works, and Legacy

Course Description:

This course will focus on the extraordinary artistic genius of the 15th-century sculptor Donatello. Through an in-depth analysis of selected works of art from throughout his prolific career, students will acquire a comprehensive understanding of the artistic vision of an artist whose range of expression is without equal in history. We shall also discuss the historical context of the artist’s life and those patrons who helped shape his career; as well as Donatello’s relationship to contemporary artists such as Filippo Brunelleschi, Masaccio, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Particular emphasis will be given to those works of art that served as inspiration for artists of later generations such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini, as well as those works that stand as singular milestones in the history of art.

Course Objectives:

  • To bring a historical figure to life through a “hands on” approach to the works produced by the artist throughout the entirety of his career.
  • To understand the role that the historical context of Donatello’s life had on his extraordinary artistic production.
  • To learn to appreciate the rich and influential aspects of Italian art from the late 14th to the middle of the 15th century.
  • To develop the fundamental skills of art historical analysis that include formal analysis and iconographic interpretation.
  • To develop an ability to interact in a personal and intimate manner with works of art – which in the case of Donatello are some of the most innovative in history – and their surroundings.

Virtual Classroom: Full access to an online educational platform with discussion forum, videos of recordings, syllabus, and readings.

Credits: Certificate of Completion

Location: LIVE INTERACTIVE ON-LINE ART HISTORY LECTURES

Examination and assignments:
OPTIONAL FINAL EXAM – The format of the exams will consist of short essay analyses.

Optional Readings:
Readings to be provided to students in PDF format prior to the beginning of course.

Complete syllabus will be provided upon registration.

  • ALL LECTURES WILL BE RECORDED AND AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING AT YOUR CONVENIENCE IN OUR VIDEO LIBRARY FOR THE DURATION OF THE COURSE
  • PARTICIPANTS ARE FREE TO ATTEND EITHER CLASS TIME

Schedule

WEEK 1 – TREASURE HUNTER AND PEASANT MAKER

– Monday, April 26: Lecture 1 – The Crucifixes of Donatello and Filippo Brunelleschi

Giorgio Vasari’s first story in his “Life of Donatello” concerns a wooden Crucifix that the young Donatello carved for the church of Santa Croce and that was criticized by Filippo Brunelleschi for being too naturalistic. This lecture will unpack Vasari’s anecdote which presents an important insight into how Donatello’s near contemporaries viewed him as perhaps the only sculptor to equal the genius of Michelangelo.

– Wednesday, April 28: Lecture 2 – Early Sculptures for Florence Cathedral – St. John the Evangelist and the marble David

The Opera – or “works committee” – of Florence Cathedral was Donatello’s most important and consistent patron. At only 22 years of age, Donatello produced two of his most important statues for the building committee. While Donatello’s St. John the Evangelist for the façade of the great church revealed the sculptor’s ingenuity and originality, his marble David for the cathedral tribunes was instead adopted by the Florentine Republic as its official symbol.

WEEK 2 – GUILD SCULPTURES AND THE BAPTISMAL FONT IN SIENA

– Monday, May 3: Lecture 3 – Sculptures for the Church of Orsanmichele – St. Mark, St. George, and St. Louis of Toulouse

Each of the three statues produced by Donatello for the guild church of Orsanmichele is a milestone in the history of art. St. Mark is generally considered the first fully Renaissance-style work of art. St. George is instead the first statue of the post-classical world to be represented in a narrative context. St. Louis of Toulouse instead reflects the sculptor’s extraordinarily expressive talents in the medium of bronze, while also demonstrating his profound knowledge of classical architecture.

– Wednesday, May 5: Lecture 4 – Relief Sculptures in Siena Baptistry – The Feast of Herod

In 1427, Donatello was commissioned by the Opera of the Baptistry of Siena to demonstrate his skill in bronze relief sculpture for the city’s main baptismal font. Other panels for the same font were produced by the celebrated Florentine goldsmith Lorenzo Ghiberti and Siena’s own renowned sculptor Jacopo della Quercia. Ultimately, Donatello’s often-overlooked panel not only outshined the works of the other two sculptors, but it also clearly displays Donatello’s mastery over the rules of linear perspective.

WEEK 3 – THE REBIRTH OF CLASSICAL SCULPTURE

– Monday, May 10: Lecture 5 – Singing Statues in Florence Cathedral – The Cantoria

The massive marble choir loft carved by Donatello for Florence Cathedral is an explosion of music and dance, movement and freedom, youth and joy. Covered in shimmering mosaics, multi-colored enamels, and stones, it is perhaps the work of Renaissance sculpture that comes closest to demonstrating the Classical world’s surprising love of ornamentation.

– Wednesday, May 12: Lecture 6 – Sculpture all’antica – The Bronze David

Donatello’s bronze David was the first free-standing nude statue since ancient Roman times. In addition to restoring sculpture to its place alongside architecture, and not simply as ornamentation for it, Donatello also caused quite a ripple in traditional Christian iconography as the homoeroticism of the sculpture is palpable. This lecture will explore the iconography of the statue, as well as discussing various theoretical interpretations of its meaning.

WEEK 4 – DEVOTION AND DELECTATION

-Monday, May 17: Lecture 7 – Sculptural Decorations in the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence

During the 1430s, Donatello produced a series of painted stucco reliefs and two sets of bronze doors for the Medici-owned Old Sacristy in San Lorenzo in Florence. This lecture will explore how these works reflect the evolution of Donatello’s style in the middle part of his career, as well as how these works integrate into the rigorous architectural framework of the sacristy’s architect, Filippo Brunelleschi.

– Wednesday, May 19: Lecture 8 – The Cavalcanti Altarpiece and The Atys-Amorino

Donatello’s grey stone sculpture of The Annunciation in Santa Croce (better known as the Cavalcanti Altarpiece) is a true masterpiece of theatrical expression, set into classically inspired architectural frame. The small bronze statue known as Atys-Amorino is instead an expression of pure delight. With no clear utilitarian or moral purpose, the charming little statue might be a harbinger of a more modern expression of art appreciated solely for its artistic value.

WEEK 5: HEROISM AND PATHOS

– Monday, May 24: Lecture 9 – Donatello in Padua

In 1455, the great Florentine sculptor, Donatello, also went to Padua to create a large, bronze equestrian monument to the mercenary general Erasmo dei Narni, better known as “Gattamelata.” Donatello’s sculpture was the first equestrian monument since Roman times, and still stands today outside of the Santo, which is the nickname for the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua. Donatello was then commissioned by the friars of the church to produce a series of bronze sculptures to decorate the high altar of their church. These often-overlooked sculptures are not only some of Donatello’s finest, but are also some of the most influential pieces of the Renaissance.

– Wednesday, May 26: Lecture 10 – The Penitent Mary Magdalene and The Judith and Holofernes

One of the most powerfully expressive statues in history, the wooden Mary Magdalene is a moving representation of asceticism and spiritual power. Surprisingly modern in appearance, it is a clear parameter of Donatello’s extraordinary range of expression. The bronze sculpture Judith and Holofernes is instead a veritable “Hollywood” version of the biblical story. Depicting a complete physical and sexual dominance over the Assyrian general, the Hebrew widow raises her sword to dramatically sever his head.

WEEK 6 – THE TWILIGHT AND LEGACY OF A GENIUS

-Monday, May 31: Lecture 11 – The Twin Bronze Pulpits in San Lorenzo in Florence

The two bronze pulpits in the Medici-sponsored church of San Lorenzo represent the artist’s last works. Although the object of much debate regarding attribution, intended location, and current arrangement, the pathos of certain panels on the pulpits clearly reveal the hand of the maestro. This lecture will examine the artistic styles and iconography of the pulpits, as well as the historical context that surrounded them.

– Wednesday, June 2: Lecture 12 – Donatello’s Sculptures in Museum Collections throughout the World

This lecture will examine those sculptures by Donatello in various museum collections throughout the world. From his stunning Madonna of the Clouds in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, to his extraordinary Ascension in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Donatello’s works are ambassadors to the world of that extraordinary period known as the Italian Renaissance.

WEEK 7 – OPTIONAL FINAL EXAM