Insegnamento a.a. 2020-2021


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLEACC (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  L-ART/02)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Lezioni della classe erogate in presenza

Suggested background knowledge

Students are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written.

Mission & Content Summary


This course explores European art and architecture from the late 16th to the early 20th century with a particular focus on three urban centres: Venice, Paris, and London. At the crossing between art history, environmental history and urban studies, the course looks into the site-specific nature of artistic production. The artistic and architectural works of the baroque and modern periods are infused with motives and outputs of urban culture, including court life and street life, the relationship with the countryside and with other cities, as well as its religious and social structures. Special attention will be given to the relationship between cities and their natural environment, as a necessary component of the early modern imaginary. The main questions asked in this course are: what is urban iconography? What are the urban communities and structures most involved in the art production of the early modern period? How do artistic artefacts account for the relation between city and country? Bringing together the social history of art and the contemporary tools of the environmental humanities, the course will work as an introduction to the history of modern art and to the most recent methods of art historical enquiry. Students are invited to develop their visual skills and to reflect critically about the history of urban and natural heritage in historical perspective.


  1. Art in the city
    • The image of the city: utopia and reality
    • Architecture and public life: power structures
    • Imaginaries: from architecture to printed matter
    • Events: drawing city life
  2. Venice:
    • A Republic on the water
    • Material splendour: gold, glass, marble
  3. Paris:
    • Court culture: art at Versailles
    • Urban elites: art in the kingless city
  4. London:
    • British art between city and country
    • Street life’s satirical prints.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...

Demonstrate relevant knowledge and understanding of the history of art from the late 16th century to the early 20th century. More specifically, students will be able to:

  • Distinguish between different visual languages and techniques, and recognising the recurring iconographic motifs of the three cities used as case studies.
  • Orientate themselves in narratives of European art history and appreciate the role of observation and of primary texts to interpret works of art.
  • Understand and intepret the historical contribution of the visual arts to shaping local identities, especially in terms of differences and appropriations.
  • Consider Europe’s natural heritage in historical perspective, and demonstrate understanding of the socio-cultural and artistic dimensions of urban heritage as it appears today.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Improve and utilise the skills of visual analysis to  the iconography, visual language and technique of works of art of the period, especially paintings and drawings.
  • Deploy some historical knowledge about the art of early modern Europe.
  • Read and interpret some relevant texts in the history of art.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the socio-cultural and epistemological dimensions of the urban and natural environment.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Online lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Company visits
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments
  • Interactive class activities (role playing, business game, simulation, online forum, instant polls)


This course works as an art historical workshop. To this end, it combines traditional frontal teaching (lectures) with museum visits, seminar-based activities and guest lectures. Attending students have the chance to probe the course’s themes and ideas through the informal presentation of group case studies. For the latter activity, students work in small teams and present an exhibition or display to the rest of the class in a dedicated session. Individual assignments will be provided in preparation to the exam.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


  • Attendance, participation and mid-term presentation: 20% of final mark
  • Final exam – Written test with a visual comparison exercise: 30% of final mark.
  • Final exam – Written test about the topics of the course, with two open questions: 50% of final mark.


Attending students are those who are physically present in class for at least 75% of classes. Active participation to seminar discussions and contribution to the group work is part of the requirement for attending students (20% of final mark). After the third exam session, all students are considered as non-attending.


Two open questions in the exam grade the ability of students to understand the themes of the course, as complemented by the readings. The third question evaluates the students' ability to perform visual analysis on images similar to those seen in class. The evaluation also grades clarity of presentation and the ability to place images in a historical narrative.


Final exam – written test with three open questions: 100% of final mark.

The evaluation grades the ability of students to understand the themes of the course, as complemented by the readings; the ability to place images in a historical narrative; the depth of analysis; and finally the clarity of presentation.

Teaching materials


For attending students, the compulsory readings (journal articles or book chapters) and class material (primary texts) are made available as a book (reader) or on the online platform. Power Points and other visual resources are uploaded on the Bboard online platform after each class. Two glossaries also are available to students in preparation for the exam.


In addition to the compulsory readings and other material available on Bboard, non-attending students are required to read selected chapters from the following book:

  • E. GOMBRICH, The story of art, Phaidon, 1950, first ed. 
Last change 14/12/2020 19:39