"Birth of Venus" (detail), ca. 1485, by Sandro Botticelli (Uffizi Gallery)
Consider two Italian Renaissance painters whose approach to creating visual images couldn’t have been more dissimilar: Botticelli, with his fluidity, movement, and elegance of drawing; and della Francesca, with his stillness, thoughtfulness, and reassuring solidity of form.
While building on the same foundations of early Florentine painting, they produced some of the era’s finest masterpieces, often approaching a similar subject from a very different direction. Their work illuminates the Renaissance’s complex diversity of styles and methods rather than the homogeneous movement in painting that most often comes to mind.
In this richly illustrated talk, art historian Nigel McGilchrist examines the lives of both artists, from the bold and arresting works of their early adulthood through their later years and more reflective maturity. Della Francesca turns inward and explores the way in which images are constructed. Botticelli, under the influence of the apocalyptic preaching of the Dominican firebrand Savonarola, destroys much of his early work in an act of penitence and, turning his back on decorative elegance, creates a new, more urgent visual language.
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit