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April 8, 2022


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This course, Art in Renaissance Venice, considers the art of Renaissance Venice and how such art was determined in many ways by the city's geographical location and ethnically diverse population. Studying Venice and its art offers a challenge to the conventional notion of Renaissance art as an entirely Italian phenomenon.


Trade took Venetian merchants all over the Mediterranean and as far as China, a fact that affected not only the city’s economic prosperity but its cultural identity, making fifteenth-century Venice one of the most culturally diverse cities in Europe, a fact clearly depicted in many Venetian paintings. This course reviews some aspects of the social and cultural diversity of fifteenth-century Venice and how they affected the city’s art. In particular, it focuses on Venice’s relations with the East and its several manifestations, the legacy of Orthodox Christian Byzantium, and the contemporary Islamic societies of the Ottomans and Mamluks. Studying Venice and its art thus offers a challenge to the conventional notion of Renaissance art as an entirely European phenomenon.

Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:
  • Be aware of the art and culture of fifteenth-century Venice
  • Be aware of the nature of cultural exchange in Renaissance Europe
  • Understand how Venetian art challenges the canonical view of Renaissance art as a purely western European phenomenon
  • Start to develop skills in the critical visual analysis based on the study of selected images of Renaissance art
  • Understand the geographical, political and commercial forces that set Venice at the centre of a broad network of trade and power relations and the complex ways these were reflected in Venetian art and architecture.

Course Curriculum

    • Renaissance Art Reconsidered 01:30:00
    • Art in fifteenth-century Venice: ‘an aesthetic of diversity’ 00:40:00
    • Two devotional paintings 00:40:00
    • A Portrait 00:40:00
    • Some History Paintings 00:45:00
    • Post-Reading Activity 00:30:00
    • Footnotes 00:45:00
    • Conclusion 00:30:00

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Open University UK