Ever since Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century championed Cimabue and Giotto as the first great Italian artists, Florence has been proclaimed as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. But how accurate is this idea? Despite the fame of Giotto, his style was not the only one favoured in his native city, nor was painting in early Renaissance Italy completely dominated by Florentines. Sienese artists were just as successful, even winning major commissions from Florentine patrons. This course will reassess the relative contributions of Florence and Siena in the renewal of Italian painting between c.1280 and 1348. We will examine panel paintings and frescoes created by leading artists from the two rival cities, including the Florentines Cimabue, Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and Bernardo Daddi, and the Sienese masters Duccio, Simone Martini, and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Can their work usefully be characterized as ‘Florentine’ or ‘Sienese’? Or was the style of painting produced in the two cities determined by other factors, such as the function of the work, its patrons and viewers? The course will include visits to the National Gallery and The Courtauld Gallery.
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