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ARTH 214
History of Northern Renaissance Art
Spring, 2013

 Tuesday, 5:30-8:00; FA 224.

Dr. Allen Farber, Associate Professor
303 Fine Arts Center (436- 2558); E-Mail: FARBERAS

Web page:

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 9:00-10:00 and Wednesday, 1:00-3:00 or by appointment. Notes can be left in my mailbox in 222 FAC, or messages can be left through Voice-mail at 6-2558. I would also encourage you to communicate with me over E-Mail.

Purposes of the Course:
1) To acquaint you with the major monuments of Northern Renaissance art, and to examine the major developments / transformations in the art of this period.
2) To acquaint you with the variety of ways scholars have approached the art of this period, and to give you the opportunity to read, think, and write critically about art and art history.

Course Format:

1) Although designed principally as a lecture course, I would like to encourage as much class participation as possible. Periodically I will ask for your responses to individual works or comparisons of works. I have found in the past that class discussions are the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of a course like this.

2) The World Wide Web presents us with a phenomenal resource to study art. Images and other materials can be made immediately accessible to students. I intend to take advantage of this resource. I will be posting materials relevant to the course on this course's Web site:

I plan to post material to help you prepare for class discussions and seminars. To keep up to date, check the Assignments page for this course:

Be aware that the web materials for this course are very much a work in progress. I will be frequently making revisions in pages. Check the web page regularly to make sure that you are up to date.

3) Option A: 3 short papers (3-5 pages): At least 2 of these will be seminar papers. At least three times during the semester, the class will focus on a major monument or topic related to Northern Renaissance Art. You will be given materials in advance of the seminar to help you prepare for it. A week following the completion of the seminar you are expected to submit to me a 3-5 page, typewritten paper presenting your response to the discussion. It is expected that these responses will focus on a particular aspect of the topic.

The first seminar will be devoted to an examination of the Calendar illustrations in the Très riches heures made for Jean de Berry. The second seminar will be devoted to Jan Van Eyck's famous double portrait traditionally entitled The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait. The third seminar will be devoted to the self-portraits of Albrecht Dürer and the changing conception of the artists.

At least 2 of the short papers will be seminar reports, but for the third paper you will have the option of focusing on a topic of your own choice. Again I expect a 3-5 page paper, and you should explore the appropriate research materials available to you. You must get my approval of your topic before you start.

Option B: A single Term Paper, 10-15 pages in length. The paper is on a topic of your choice in consultation with me. You are expected to research your topic, and meet with me on a regular basis as you develop your paper. The final paper should be documented with footnotes/endnotes. The paper should also include a bibliography of works cited. As implied by the label, I expect this paper to be worked on over the course of the whole semester.

All papers must be submitted to me by the last day of classes. Any student who has not completed all of the assignments by this date will receive an "F" in the course unless they have have consulted with me in advance of the deadline.

Because of the extensive material available on the web, there will be no formal textbook for the course, but I have asked Damascene to order several copies of Jeffrey Chipps Smith, The Northern Renaissance. Smith presents an alternative in this text to the traditional survey. He takes a thematic approach and places a heavy emphasis on the different contexts of art of the period.

Tentative List of Topics:

January 22: Introduction. Review web pages entitled History of Northern Renaissance Art: Introduction and the Hours of Mary Burgundy.

January 29: From Cathedral to Court: French Royal Patronage of the Fourteenth Century. The major monuments we will be considering in this class will be the early fourteenth century Life of St. Denis manuscript and the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux by Jean Pucelle.

February 5:The Court of Charles V and Establishing Female Literary Authority: this class will combine two different topics. We will begin with an examination of the court patronage of Charles V of France. It will be crucial to situate these works within the context of court culture. As part of our discussion we will consider the change in palace design evident in Charles V's revisions to the Louvre. This will be related to a series of innovative presentation images to his manuscripts. For these see the web-page entitled: Representations of Intimacy. The second part of the class will focus on the career of Christine de Pizan. The focus of our discussion will be on how she as a woman author established her literary authority within the context of a very patriarchal world. Review the web-page entitled: Christine de Pizan and Establishing Female Literary Authority.

February 12: From Workshop to Chamber: the Paris Book Industry of the Early Fifteenth Century:Fourteenth and Fifteenth century Paris was the site of a very vital book industry. As a way of understanding the development of the artist, we need to consider the workings of the book industry. Review the webpage entitled Medieval Guilds and Craft Production.

February 26: First Seminar: The Très riches heures and the World of Jean de Berry: review the webpage dedicated to the Très riches heures. Note that this page has links to other related pages.

March 5: The Art of Jan Van Eyck: In preparation for this class review the page entitled Court Artist and the page dedicated to Jan van Eyck as Court Artist for the Duke of Burgundy.

March 12: Second Seminar: The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait.

March 19: The Beginnings of Netherlandish Painting and Robert Campin / the Master of Flémalle: review the webpage dedicated to the major work associated with this artist: Robert Campin: Merode Altarpiece.

April 2 : The Art of Rogier van der Weyden

April 9 : The Tormented Worlds of Hieronymus Bosch and Mathias Grünewald

April 16: The Art of Albrecht Dürer: see the page examining Dürer's conception of the human figure.

April 23: Third Seminar: Albrecht Dürer and the Creation of the Renaissance Artist : see page entitled The Self-Portraits of Albrecht Dürer.

April 30 and May 7: Hans Holbein and the Renaissance Portrait: the major focus of this class will be on an examination of Holbein's painting traditionally entitled The Ambassadors. See the webpages that I have constructed exploring the different contexts of this painting.


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