ARTH399 High Baroque & Rococo European & Italian Art, Linda Reynolds, Spring 2020 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTH399 High Baroque & Rococo European & Italian Art, Linda Reynolds, Spring 2020

Baroque art has many styles and manifestations: in Italy its religious art has been characterized as the art of the Counter Reformation with a strong propaganda element for the Catholic church; while in France and England it is also the art of the absolute monarchs, the Sun King, Louis XIV and Charles I - here propaganda takes a secular turn. It is the age which saw the development of landscape painting, notably with the French artists Poussin and Claude Lorrain, and the age which develops genre painting - ordinary every day subject matter, while also continuing with the traditional subjects of mythology, allegory, history and portraits. Stylistically, it is an art which is dramatic, theatrical, exuberant, emotional, extrovert, full of movement and color.

Baroque art begins in Rome and, accordingly, the course starts with an examination of the mature work of the painters Carracci and Caravaggio and their followers, notably Artemisia Gentileschi, Domenichino, Guercino and others. The Neapolitan School and later developments in Rome will also be discussed. Sculpture is primarily represented by the virtuoso Bernini who achieves the art of the impossible - that of making Michelangelo look staid. Consideration is also given to Bernini's followers. In architecture, the classical trend of Baroque is seen in Bernini while the innovative, even eccentric, trends are seen in the creations of Borromini.

The Northern development of Baroque art is represented by Rubens and van Dyck who both studied in Italy, and while Rembrandt did not, nevertheless he was influenced by trends there, as were the Spaniards Ribera, Zurbaran and Velazquez: accordingly, consideration will also be given to the Northern and Spanish Schools.

Rococo, the art of the 18th century is essentially delicate, refined, elegant, light-hearted and playful, an art form which was born in France and, in its first manifestations, was the art of the French aristocracy: both Rococo art and the French aristocracy were to be swept away by the French Revolution. The French painters to be discussed are Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard. In Italy, Rococo is represented by Tiepolo (whose paintings look like stage sets on which the actors declaim their lines) and by Canaletto and Guardi whose views of Venice were sought after by the English aristocracy on their Grand Tour of Italy. Finally, the extraordinary architectural engravings of Piranesi will also be discussed.

There is a field trip to Rome on Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23, as well as visits to museums and galleries in Florence.

NOTE: THE TRIP TO ROME IS MANDATORY as is counts towards your total contact hours.



Tuesday, January 14
Historical background. Carracci "the reformer of painting." Baroque art begins in Rome, and as it spreads throughout Europe, it manifests many different styles. In Italy its religious art has been characterized as the art of the Counter Reformation, with a strong propaganda element for the Catholic church. Rome is our starting point, but as the course progresses, we will examine Baroque's varied forms.

Thursday, January 16
Caravaggio. Probably the greatest of the Baroque painters: his work has been characterized as revolutionary and he himself a rebel.

Tuesday, January 21
Caravaggio and the Caravaggisti - the impact of Caravaggio's art. Artemisia Gentileschi.

Thursday, January 23
MEET at 2 pm in Piazza della Signoria by the equestrian statue of Duke Cosimo de' Medici to the far left of Palazzo Vecchio for first visit to the Uffizi Gallery. Be Punctual, we have a timed entry. We first pick up our headsets and then go to the entrance. Note: Even though we have a timed entry to 2:15, it does not mean we will get in at that time. This depends on the crowd factor, but it is hoped that January will be quieter. To save time on entry avoid bringing backpacks or large bags which have to be checked. Large bottles of water will be confiscated. We have to go through the security very much like airport security so make sure you haven't inadvertently packed a lino-cut knife! This has actually happened. 

Tuesday, January 28
Bernini and Baroque sculpture. It could be argued that the virtuoso Bernini achieves the art of the impossible - that of making Michelangelo look staid.

Thursday, January 30
Bernini continued. Bernini represents the more classical phase of Baroque architecture while Borromini represents its more innovative, even eccentric aspect. Borromini has been characterized as one of the greatest creative forces of all time.

Tuesday, February 4
Baroque architecture. Bernini represents the more classical phase of Baroque architecture while Borromini represents its more innovative, even eccentric aspect.

Thursday, February 6
The Neapolitan School. Caravaggio fled to Naples from Rome after committing a murder. His arrival changed the whole course of Neapolitan painting: our focus will be upon the Spanish/Neapolitan painter Ribera.

Tuesday, February 11
MEET at Palazzo Pitti, Piazza Pitti at 2 pm. We visit the Palatine Gallery to see Italian Baroque painting, and ceiling frescoes by Pietro da Cortona which glorify the Medici. We will also visit the summer quarters of the palace to see more extraordinary illusionistic painting.

Thursday, February 13
Illusionistic ceiling painting from Guido Reni to Padre Pozzo. Presentations.

Tuesday, February 18
MEET at Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Via Cavour 3 at 2:15 pm to see the illusionistic ceiling frescoes by the Neapolitan, Luca Giordano. Back to class for presentations.

Thursday, February 20
The architecture of Borromini continued. Borromini has been characterized as one of the greatest creative forces of all time whose architecture has to be experienced to be understood.

Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23

Tuesday, February 25
Already taught in Rome.

Thursday, February 27
MIDTERM EXAM for Part 1: Baroque Art in Central Italy

MIDTERM BREAK (February 29 - March 8)


Tuesday, March 10
The central character of Flemish Baroque is Rubens who studied in Italy, helped in the dissemination of Baroque in northern Europe and was ennobled by King Charles I of England as Sir Peter Paul. He produced a staggering array of flamboyant work: religious (Catholic), portraits, histories, mythologies, landscapes and allegories.

Thursday, March 12
One-time assistance to Rubens, van Dyck sought his fortune in England and was also ennobled as Sir Anthony at the court of the absolute monarch King Charles I who used art as a vehicle of propaganda for the divine right of kings.

Tuesday, March 17
The Dutch Rembrandt (Protestant) represents the quieter, contemplative trend of Baroque art: in his religious work, his faith affects his art, while in his portraits he achieves an unparalleled psychological insight. Although he did not study in Italy, his work shows some impact from Caravaggio.

Thursday, March 19
Rembrandt continued. The Dutch School: landscape and genre painting.

Tuesday, March 24
The Dutch School continued: Vermeer, Rembrandt's younger contemporary, is one of the greatest masters of light and color, latterly famous as the point of The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

Thursday, March 26
Meet at 2 pm as before in Piazza della Signoria for second visit to the Uffizi Gallery where we will continue on the 17th and 18th Century Dutch, Flemish, French and Spanish painting: Baroque to Rococo.

Tuesday, March 31
The Spanish School: Velazquez. As with Rubens and van Dyck, Velazquez studied in Italy where Venetian painting had a particular impact on him: his paintings shimmer with a silvery sheen and an air of aristocratic sophistication which endeared him to King Philip IV of Spain who, like King Charles I of England, believed in the divine right of kings.

Thursday, April 2
The Spanish School continued: Velazquez, Zurburan, Murillo.


Tuesday, April 7
Background: 17th century French classicism. 18th century Rococo in France. Rococo is essentially delicate, refined, elegant, light-hearted and playful. It is an art form which was born in France and, in its first manifestations, was the art of the French aristocracy: both Rococo art and the French aristocracy were to be swept away by the French Revolution. The French painters to be discussed are Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard.

Thursday, April 9
French Rococo continued. Chardin: the sober moral art of this artist affords a contrast to frivolities of the boudoir art of Boucher and, on one level, brings us back to the moralizing tendencies of Dutch genre painting.

Tuesday, April 14
Italian Rococo is primarily represented by the great Giambattista Tiepolo whose delicate pastel colors swirl into one another and whose paintings resemble stage sets on which the actors declaim their lines.

Thursday, April 16
Rococo in Italy: Domenico Tiepolo, son of Giambattista, shows us the Carnival face of Venice, while Canaletto and Guardi give us the view (vedute) of Venice which were sought after by the English aristocracy on their Grand Tour of Italy. In conclusion, we will look at the engravings of Piranesi whose views of ancient Rome bring us back full circle to Rome, the cradle of Baroque and the starting point of the course.

Tuesday, April 21
Meet at Palazzo Pitti, Piazza Pitti for second visit where we will concentrate on northern European painting, some Spanish, and a touch of Rococo.

Thursday, April 23

FIELD TRIP TO ROME IS MANDATORY since it counts towards your total contact hours.

This schedule is subject to change or variation.

Required Textbook

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Textbook Provision, SACI provides, when possible, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended reading. Note: Students are encouraged not to purchase the textbook until speaking with the instructor on the first day of class. Copies are available for loan or can be consulted in the SACI Worthington Library.

Anna Sutherland Harris, Seventeenth-Century Art & Architecture, London, Laurence King, 2005.
ISBN: 9781856694155 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Back-up to Textbook

John Rupert Martin, Baroque, New York, Harper & Row, 1977.
ISBN: 9780064300773 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Michael Schwarz, The Age of Rococo, International Thomson Publishing, 1971.
ISBN: 9780275254803 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Rudolf Wittkower, Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750, 3 volumes, revised by Joseph Connors and Jennifer Montagu, New Haven: Yale University Press, Pelican History of Art, 1999.
ISBN: 9780300078893 (Retail price: $110)

Reference Bibliography

  • Anthony Blunt, ed., Baroque and Rococo, Architecture and Decorative Arts, Ware: Wordsworth Editions, 1988.
  • Rolf Toman, ed., Baroque Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Cologne: Konemann, 1998.
  • Rolf Toman, ed., Baroque and Rococo, Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Berlin: Feieraben, 2003.
  • Germain Bazin, The Baroque, Principles, Styles, Modes, Themes, London: Thames & Hudson, 1968.
  • Robin Blake, Van Dyck, A Life
  • Anthony Blunt, Art and Architecture in France 1500-1700, Pelican History of Art, 1986.
  • Jonathan Brown, Velazquez, Painter and Courtier, New Haven: Yale University Press
  • Kenneth Clark, Rembrandt and the Italian Renaissance, New York: W.W. Norton, 1966.
  • Charles Dempsey, Annibale Carracci, The Farnese Gallery, Rome, New York: Braziller ,1995.
  • Charles Dempsey, Annibale Carracci and the Beginnings of Baroque Style, Florence, Villa i Tatti, 1977.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Masters of Italian Baroque Painting, eds., Bissell, Derstine & Miller.
  • Francois Fosca, XVIII Century, Watteau to Tiepolo, New York, Skira, 1952.
  • Mary Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989.
  • Francis Haskell, Patrons and Painters, New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Howard Hibbard, Bernini, Harmondsworth, England: London: Penguin Books, 1965, reprinted 1990.
  • Howard Hibbard, Caravaggio, New York: Harper Collins, 1985.
  • Vernon Hyde Minor, Baroque and Rococo, Art and Culture, London: Laurence King, 1999.
  • E. Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony van Dyck, Freeren, 1988.
  • Michael Levey, Painting in 18th-Century Venice, New Haven: Yale University Press, Pelican History of Art, 1994.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, Velazquez, exhibition catalogue, New York: Abrams, 1989.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, Giambattista Tiepolo 1696-1770, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1996, ed., Keith Christiansen.
  • Alfred Moia, van Dyck, New York, Abrams, 1994.
  • National Gallery, London, El Greco to  Goya, ed. Allan Braham, 1981.
  • Christian Norberg-Schulz, Baroque Architecture, New York: Electa/Rizzoli, History of World Architecture, 1986.
  • Christian Norberg-Schulz, Late Baroque and Rococo Architecture, New York, Abrams, 1974.
  • Filipo Pedracco, Tiepolo, the Complete Paintings, New York: Rizzoli, 2002.
  • Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Piranesi: Etchings and Drawings, selected and with an introduction by Roseline Bacou, London: Thames and Hudson, 1975; Boston New York Graphic Society, 1975.
  • Donald Posner, Antoine Watteau, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984.
  • Princeton University Art Museum, Italian Baroque Paintings from Private Collections, exhibition catalogue, 1980, ed. John Spike.
  • Rosenberg, Sline, Ter Kuile, Dutch Art and Architecture 1600-1800, Pelican History of Art, 1987.
  • Royal Academy of Art, The Golden Age of Spanish Painting, exhibition catalogue, London, 1976.
  • Royal Academy of Art, van Dyck, 1599-1641, exhibition catalogue, London, 1999.
  • Norbert Schneider, Vermeer, The Complete Paintings, revised edition, Cologne: Taschen, 2000.
  • Jacques Thuillier and Albert Chatelet, French Painting from Le Nain to Fragonard, Geneva: Skira, 1964.
  • Mariett Westermann, The Art of the Dutch Republic 1585-1718, London: Laurence King, 2004.
  • R. Ward Bissell, Artemisia Gentileschi and the Authority of Art, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.
  • Christopher White, Peter Paul Rubens: Man and Artist, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

Reading Assignments

Reading Assignments will be given on a regular basis. It is preferable to read an assigned text before coming to class.

Other Requirements

There will be a midterm and a final prepared exam. Topics will be given in advance to enable you to do the necessary research. Your chosen topic will be written in the classroom under exam conditions.

In addition, in place of a slide test, each student will give a brief oral presentation to the class of a selected work of art.

Further, each student must also write a short research paper, approved by the instructor, on one of the topics discussed in class in which they analyze in greater depth selected aspects of a specific problem. The paper is due at the end of the term, and must be typed and include a detailed bibliography.


Grading of exams and papers will be based upon demonstration of accurate historical knowledge, critical thinking, and clear expression.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.

Note About the Syllabus

The syllabus suggests the direction of the course of study that students will undertake in this class. It may change as we explore more deeply, or in different ways, the artists and movements of the period to be covered.

General Safety & Emergency Instructions

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