Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

ARTHIST 2I03 Renaissance Art

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Devin Therien


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 416

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23668

Office Hours: Monday (9:30-11:30 am) & Friday (11:30 am-1:00 pm), or by appointment

Course Objectives:

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Renaissance Art examines the artists and themes that determined the trajectory of painting, sculpture and architecture during the period 1400 to 1580. The development of perspective, monumental free-standing sculpture, narrative painting, and fresco decoration will be explored by studying the works of such artists as Donatello, Jan Van Eyck, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, and Titian. The course also investigates how the invention of the printing press and engraving played a pivotal role in disseminating the new art and ideas throughout Europe. Beginning in early Renaissance Florence, the course charts the development of the arts throughout Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands by considering the social and cultural forces that helped shape the environments in which artists worked.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:



Stephen J. Campbell & Michael Cole, Italian Renaissance Art, Thames & Hudson: 2011.


Jeffrey Chipps Smith, The Northern Renaissance, Phaidon: 2004.



Reference Texts:


Frederick Hartt, History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Pearson Prentice Hall: 2006 (or newer); James Snyder, Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture and the Graphic Arts from 1350-1575, Pearson Prentice Hall: 1985 (or newer)



Online Resources (Non-McMaster Libraries, Encyclopedia, & Image Databases):


RKD – Netherlandish Institute for Art Library:

Kubikat – German Art Libraries Network:

E. P. Taylor Research Library, Art Gallery of Ontario:

AMICUS, Library and Archives Canada:

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Metropolitan Museum of Art:


Method of Assessment:


The final grade for this course will derive from four pieces of work. There will be a mid-term exam, one synopsis, one essay and a final examination. Each piece of work will be discussed in class. The marking scheme for each is listed below:


Mid-Term Exam: 25% (October 26th); Catalogue Entry: 10% (500 word synopsis of any Renaissance work of art at the Art Gallery of Ontario—due Nov. 13th); Essay: 30% (due Dec. 7th); Final exam: 35% (TBA).


*Instructions and guidelines for the essay: Each student must write a 2000 word essay examining a single work of art in any medium by one of the following artists:


Donatello, Jan van Eyck, Sandro Botticelli, Rogier van der Weyden, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Hans Holbein, Michelangelo, Maarten Van Heemskerck, Veronese, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Titian, or another subject approved after consultation with the instructor.


*Works of art excluded from essay subjects include: Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece; Leonardo’s Last Supper; Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgment Altarpiece & Triptych of the Seven Sacraments; Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling & Medici Chapels; all four frescoes in any of Raphael’s Vatican stanze (single wall frescoes are permitted) & the frescoes at the Villa Farnese; and Veronese’s ceiling paintings in San Sebastiano, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Biblioteca Marciano, & the Palazzo Ducale.


* 1% will be deducted from the catalogue entry and essay final grades for EVERY spelling error. THOROUGH PROOFREADING is required.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

LATE AND / OR MISSED WORK: It is the responsibility of each student to attend class, tests and exams and meet the requirements of the coursework. Missed exams and late papers will automatically be assigned a grade of 0. Exceptions to this policy will only be made in the specific instances outlined below (see McMaster Student Absence Form), and only when met by approval from the Faculty/Program office and course instructor. It is advised that all students contact the instructor 24 hours in advance of any absence if possible.


McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


No Classes on September 18 and November 6, 9 & 11

Sept. 9 & 11 – Introduction to Renaissance Europe; Early Renaissance Florence: Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi and Masaccio


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 1, 2, 3 & 4; Chipps Smith, Introduction


Sept. 14 & 16 – Perspective in Painting and Sculpture: Masaccio, Donatello, Jan van Eyck


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 4, 5 & 9


Sept. 21, 23 & 25 – Naturalism in Italy and the North: Perugino, Botticelli, Leonardo; Van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and Hugo van der Goes


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 9 & 10 (pp. 275-83); Chipps Smith, Chapters 4, 5 & 6 (pp. 160-178)


Sept. 28, 30 & Oct. 1 – Architecture at the Renaissance Court: Florence, Rome, Urbino, Mantua and Milan


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 8, 15, 16 (479-86)


Oct. 5, 7 & 9 – The Printing Press: Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer and the Renaissance Print


Readings: Chipps Smith, Chapter 8


Oct. 12, 14 & 16 – Mid-term break


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 11, 12 & 13


Oct. 19, 21 & 23 – Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo in Rome: Painting, Sculpture and the Rediscovery of Antiquity


Oct. 26 (Mid-Term Exam), 28 & 30 – Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach and Hans Holbein: Divergent Styles and Techniques in the North


Readings: Chipps Smith, Chapter 11


Nov. 2 & 4 – Venice versus Florence and Rome: Correggio, Giorgione, Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 14 & 17


Nov. 6, 9 & 11Offsite Assignment Days: Independently travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario and write a Catalogue Entry on any work by a Renaissance artist in their collection (i.e. Tintoretto, Dürer, Brueghel, Cranach, etc.).


Nov. 13 (Catalogue Entry Due) – Building the Modern Cathedral: St. Peter’s Basilica and its Architects


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapters 7, 18 & 19 (pp. 575-79)


Nov. 16, 18 & 20 – Romanists: Maarten van Heemskerk and the Northerners in the South


Readings: Chipps Smith, Chapter 9


Nov. 23, 25 & 27 – Picturing Nature in the North and South


Readings: Chipps Smith, Chapter 10


Nov. 30, Dec. 2 & 4 – The Fall of Florence and Rome and the Rise of Venice and Bologna


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapter 19


Dec. 7 (Essay Due) – Renaissance Europe on the Edge of the Baroque


Readings: Campbell & Cole, Chapter 21 (pp. 620-35)


Other Course Information:


In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.


The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and