In 1967, the Department of History at Warwick sent a small number of its third year BA students to Venice, for the Autumn term. This was in the aftermath of devastating flooding in the city less than a year earlier.
Hosted by the owners of the Palazzo Brandolini d'Adda (overlooking the Grand Canal), the undergraduates were taught aspects of the history and art of Renaissance Venice and Florence by Professors John Hale and Michael Mallett. When the History of Art department was founded in 1974, the Venice term formed an integral part of the degree and we've never looked back! The first cohort of third year BA art history students arrived in Venice in 1976, accompanied by Foundation Professor Julian Gardner, who remembers the inaugural term vividly.
Numbers have increased since then, with between 30-35 art history undergraduates sent to Venice each autumn. In 2015, we developed a unique partnership with Carleton University (Canada) to offer five places to their students on our programme. The first cohort of Warwick art history MAs arrived in Venice in the late 1990s. They have been joined from time to time by PhD students who shepherd them and the BAs on day trips and introduce them to their dissertation topic in front of say, the Frari and Titian.
Over the decades, we have used a number of premises as our teaching base including the Scuola di San Pasquale, the Palazzo Querini Stampalia (in two iterations), the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava, and Ca'Bottacin (University Ca'Foscari). We now occupy the second floor of the the Palazzo Giustinian Lolin building near the Accademia bridge, a fifteenth-century structure restored in the 1600s by Baldassarre LonghenaL Longhena, the son of an illiterate stone mason from Brescia, established himself as arguably the most important architect and designer of Baroque Venice. We have our own library and study spaces there.
Then as now, distinguished academics from Warwick move to Venice each autumn and teach on site. The Venice Programme is convened in 2023 by Professor Louise Bourdua with Dr Giorgio Tagliaferro. The regular teaching team includes Dr Otto Saumarez Smith, Dr Naomi Vogt, Dr Sarah Walford, and Dr Marta Ajmar. We are helped on site by Venetian-based experts Dr Susan Steer and Dr Cristina Beltrami.
Alumni will fondly remember the contributions of recent and past teachers including Dr Anthony Eastmond, Dr Sharon Fermor, Professor Paul Hills, Professor Karen Lang, Dr Marie-Louise Lillywhite, Dr Richard Morris, Professor Lorenzo Pericolo, Dr Bill Roberts, Professor Michael Rosenthal, Professor Paul Smith and Dr Melanie Zefferino.