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Visual Sources



Seminar Questions

  • Why and how were visual materials produced in the Renaissance?
  • In what ways were visual materials perceived differently in the Renaissance than now?
  • To what extent, and in what ways, do visual materials offer reliable evidence of the past?


Analyse ONE of the following images:

Bertoldo di Giovanni, Pazzi Conspiracy Medal (1478)

Botticelli, Sandro, 'The Mystical Nativity' (c. 1500)

Carpaccio, Vittore, 'The Dream of St Ursula' (1495)

Lotto, Lorenzo, 'Portrait of Andrea Odoni' (1527)

Barbari, Iacopo, Map of Venice (1500)

Raimondi, Marcantonio, Apollo and the Muses on Parnassus (after Raphael) (c. 1514-20)

Raimondi, Marcantonio, Portrait of Aretino (c. 1520-25)

Sultan Suleyman with helmet (Venice, 1532)

Vico, Enea, The Academy of Baccio Bandinelli (1550)

Vecellio, Cesare, The Sultan's Favourite, from Of Ancient and Modern Dress of Diverse Parts of the World (1590)

For advice about interpreting visual material, click here. See also the items by Baxandall, Burke, and Jordanova below.


For the visual arts in Venice, click here. For the visual arts in the Italian princely courts, click here.

Alberti, Leon Battista, On the Art of Building in Ten Books, with a Foreword by Angelo Poliziano, trans. Neil Leach and Robert Tavernor (Cambridge, Mass., 1991)

Alberti, Leon Battista, On Painting, ed. and trans. Rocco Sinisgalli (Cambridge, 2011)

Auslander, Leora, 'Beyond Words', American Historical Review 110 (2005): 1015-45.

Battistini, Matilde, Symbols and Allegories in Art, trans. Stephen Sartarelli (Los Angeles, 2005)

Baxandall, Michael, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition (1350-1450) (Oxford, 1971)

Baxandall, Michael, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-century Italy, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1988), pp. 29-44.

Berger, John, Ways of Seeing (Harmondsworth, 2008)

Burke, Peter, Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (London, 2001)

Burke, Peter, "The Renaissance, Individualism, and the Portrait", History of European Ideas 21 (1995) 393-400.

Cast, David J., ed., The Ashgate Research Companion to Giorgio Vasari (Farnham, 2014)

Cennini, Cennino, The Craftsman's Handbook, trans D. V. Thompson (New York, 1954), Chapter 1.

Clark, Stuart, Vanities of the Eye. Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford, 2007)

Dowden, Ken, and Niall Livingstone, eds, A Companion to Greek Mythology (Chichester, 2011). Wiley e-book

Findlen, Paula, ed., Early Modern Things: Objects and Their Histories, 1500–1800 (New York, 2013)

Fortini Brown,Patricia, Venetian narrative painting in the age of Carpaccio (New Haven, 1988)

Fraser-Jenkins, A.D., ‘Cosimo de’ Medici’s patronage of architecture and the theory of magnificence’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 33 (1970), 162-170. JSTOR

Gaskell, Ivan, ‘Visual History’, in Peter Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing (1991: second edn, Cambridge 2000), pp. 187–217

Gilbert, Creighton E., ‘What did the Renaissance patron buy?’ Renaissance Quarterly 51 (1998), 392-450. JSTOR

Goldthwaite, Richard A., Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy, 1300-1600 (Baltimore, 1993)

Haskell, Francis, History and its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past (London, 1995)

Howard, Peter, 'Preaching Magnificence in Renaissance Florence', Renaissance Quarterly 61/2 (2008), 325-69

Jordanova, Ludmilla, 'Approaching Visual Materials', in Simon Gunn and Lucy Faire (eds), Research Methods for History (Edinburgh, 2011), pp. 30-47.

Jordanova, Ludmilla, The Look of the Past: visual and material evidence in historical practice (Cambridge, 2012)

Leach, Andrew, What is Architectural History? (Cambridge, 2010)

Mirabella, Bella (ed.), Ornamentalism: The Art of Renaissance Accessories (Ann Arbor, MI, 2012)

Nelson, Jonathan K., and Richard J. Zeckhauser (eds), The Patron's Payoff : Conspicuous Commissions in Italian Renaissance Art (Princeton, 2008)

Nochlin, Linda, Representing Women (London, 1999)

O'Malley, Michelle, and Evelyn Welch, (eds), The Material Renaissance (Manchester, 2010)

Palladio, Andrea, The Four Books of Architecture, trans Robert Tavernor and Richard Schofield (Cambridge, Mass., 1997)

Scribner, Bob, ‘Ways of seeing in the age of Dürer’, in Dagmar Eichberger and Charles Zika (eds), Dürer and his Culture (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 93-117.

Serlio, Sebastiano, Serlio on Domestic Architecture (New York, 1997)

Vasari, Giorgio, The Lives of the Artists, ed. and trans. George Bull, 2 vols (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987) [Also online here]

Welch, Evelyn, 'Public Magnificence and Private Display: Giovanni Pontano's De splendore (1498) and the Domestic Arts', Journal of Design History (2002) 15(4), 211-21.

Welch, Evelyn, Shopping in the Renaissance. Consumer Cultures in Italy 1400–1600 (New Haven, CT, 2005), Introduction.



Greek Mythology Link

Iconography links 

Renaissance Festival Books

Visual Interests: The Intellectual Legacy of Michael Baxandall (videos of a conference which discusses the 'period eye')

Web Gallery of Art