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Introduction to Western Art: From the Great Pyramids to the Pantheon

4-Session Daytime Course

Monday, January 6, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0475
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
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Fresco of Primavera (or Flora), ca. 1st cent., Stabiae

Our modern world echoes with the creative vestiges of the past, from the Arc de Triomphe to Wedgwood pottery, from the paintings of Pablo Picasso to the Washington Monument. The key to understanding the inspiration for these works—and so many more across the centuries—is through an overview of ancient material culture.

Renee Gondek, an art historian and an adjunct faculty member in classics at the University of Mary Washington, leads an insightful survey of the paintings, sculptures, and architecture produced in ancient Egypt and the Greek and Roman worlds.

JAN 6  Ancient Egypt

Take a journey down the Nile during the third and second millennia B.C. and discover the massive mortuary and ritual complexes of the pharaohs, such as the Great Pyramids at Giza, the funerary temple of Hatshepsut, the Tomb of Tutankhamen, and the Ramesseum at Abu Simbel. Examine the visual language of both iconic Egyptian sculptures and beautifully preserved frescoes and papyri.

JAN 13  The Aegean Bronze Age

Study the archaeological remains of the earliest Greeks including the labyrinthine palace of Knossos on Crete (reportedly the home of mythical King Minos); the fortified citadel of Mycenae in the Argolid; the bull leapers and snake goddesses of ancient Minoan deposits; and the golden death masks and ceremonial daggers from well-furnished Mycenaean graves.

JAN 27  Archaic to Hellenistic Greece

The mid-fifth century B.C. in Athens is often regarded as the apex of ancient Greek visual culture. Examine the development of Greek art from the rigid Archaic koroi and korai figures in the sixth century to Hellenistic statuary forms that depict motion, emotion, and drama. Survey the art of Athenian vase-painting by viewing masterpieces such as the famous Euphronios krater (an artifact restored to Italy after decades in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

FEB 3 The Roman World    

Understand the highly political sphere of the ancient Romans and how imperial monuments like the Ara Pacis, Column of Trajan, Pantheon, and Arch of Constantine reflect tradition and communicate messages of power. Move away from public spaces and enter the spacious dwellings of the Roman elite to examine the styles and subject matter of ancient frescoes.

4 sessions (no class Jan. 20)

World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 core course credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.