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Online Course

Deepen your knowledge and expand your horizons by registering for an online, interactive art history course taught by Elaine Ruffolo.

Upcoming 7-week course begins on Wednesday, February 8th:

The Renaissance in Florence



Please register with an email address you can check.

You will receive an informational email from closer to the first class. If you have not received an email by February 1st, please let us know.

Registered students can access supplemental class information and recordings here:

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Course description:

Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Alberti, Botticelli, and Leonardo have come to be regarded as major figures at a pivotal juncture of the history of western art. Even within their own lifetimes, their art was seen as embodying a “rebirth” of painting, sculpture, and architecture. This course explores the art and architecture of fifteenth century Florence. We will reflect on how art was patronized by individuals and communities to project social and spiritual authority.  We will explore in depth the historical, political, and cultural evolution of Florence between 1400 and 1500. This overview will not be confined to works of art but will include social and patronage issues - i.e., the role of the guilds, the differences in private, civic, and church patronage - that affected the style, form and content of the Italian rich artistic output, which reached a peak often nostalgically referred to by later generations as the “golden age.” 

The course begins with an analysis of the historical and social background of the beginning of the Renaissance and the impact of patronage on art and artist’s best practices. It then focuses on Florentine sculpture, architecture, and painting created between 1400 and 1500.  By the end of this course, you will have gained a thorough knowledge of the social, political, and artistic situation during the Florentine Renaissance.

Texts for the class 

Paoletti, John, and Gary Radke, Art in Renaissance Italy, 4th ed., London: Laurence King, 2011.
Partridge, Loren, Art of Renaissance Florence. 1400-1600, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California
Baxandall, Michael, Painting and Experience in 15th Century Italy, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press 1988

Wednesday February 8

The Renaissance Artist at Work 

Topics to be considered:  the social world of the artist, artistic training, Renaissance art and its function, materials, and types of Renaissance art.

Suggested reading assignment: 

Paoletti/Radke: Introduction: Art in Context

Baxandall: pages 1-23 and 118-148


Wednesday February 15

Speaking Statues: Early Renaissance Sculpture

Focus on Filippo Brunelleschi, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Donatello. 

Topics to be considered: Expressions of the Republic of Florence, competition, technique, context of statuary.

Suggested reading assignment: 

Paoletti/Radke: TBA


Wednesday February 22

The Built Environment: Early Renaissance Architecture.

Focus on Brunelleschi, Alberti and Michelozzo

Topics to be discussed: the dome for Florence cathedral, street life, tower houses, palaces, courtyards.

Suggested reading assignment: 

Paoletti/Radke: TBA


Wednesday March 1

Early Renaissance Painting

Topics to be discussed:  stylistic trends in painting, the illusion of space, development of perspective.

Artists to be considered: Gentile da Fabriano, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca. 

Suggested reading assignment: 

Paoletti/Radke: TBA


Wednesday March 8  

Leonardo in Florence

Guest lecturer Dr. Ross King  


Wednesday March 15

Patronage in Renaissance Florence

Topics to be discussed: motivation for art patronage, Neoplatonism, diplomacy, the family chapel. Patrons to be considered: Medici, Tornabuoni, Strozzi, the Florentine Republic

Artists to be considered: Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio.

Suggested reading assignment:

Paoletti/Radke: TBA


Tuesday March 21

Class Review and Final Exam (not graded!)

The Renaissance in Florence


COST: $395 or €325 per person 

($180 discounted fee to additional household members)

WHEN: Seven week course on Wednesdays starting on February 8th at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm in Florence (1:00 to 2:30 pm in New York, 12:00 to 1:30 pm in Chicago, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in Denver and 10:00 to 11:30 am in Los Angeles).


If you miss a class, it will be recorded and available for viewing at your convenience.

Should you wish to pay with Zelle, please click the button below and enter the $395 registration fee, using my email

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