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Unit information: Baroque Art in 2018/19

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Unit name Baroque Art
Unit code HART20032
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Alexandra Hoare
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit takes a thematic approach to Baroque art and architecture from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth century. We will focus upon the main centres of artistic production in Europe, but will also branch out to consider developments in the New World. The unit will be weighted primarily toward works created in the seventeenth century.

It will begin with a discussion of the concept of the Baroque, and the origins and implications of this rather problematic term. This will be explored in relation to a series of themes determined by political, economic, social and religious context e.g. the role of artists, patrons and collectors in the making, selling and buying of art.

These themes will be punctuated by case studies that focus on individual protagonists and/or works of art and architecture, allowing us to see the connections between works of art being made at the same time in different countries and by different artists. It also reinforces for us that works of art and architecture are not only a part of human experience and history but play a powerful role in shaping that very history.

Unit Aims:

This unit will enable students to:

•Think critically about the art from the period encompassing the late sixteenth century through the early eighteenth century

•Understand the unique social and cultural events and developments that take place during this period and the nature and degree of their impact on works of art, architecture, urban design and artists themselves

•Identify key artists and art works from the period under study, and demonstrate their relationship to relevant historical developments and phenomena

•Understand and think critically about the main developments in the style and content of both sacred and secular art in the period in question

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1) Identify and analyse the significance of key themes in Baroque art.

2) reflect critically upon the historiographical debates that surround Baroque art.

3) Identify, and be able to work effectively with, and critically assess a range of types of textual material, including both secondary and primary source texts and archival materials.

4)evaluate key vocabulary and theoretical terms relevant to both the historical period and modern scholarship.

Teaching details

1 x 2hr informal lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week

Assessment Details

1) 2000-word essay (50%) (ILOs 1-4)

2) 2-hour exam (50%) (ILOs 1,2-4)

Reading and References

Ann Sutherland Harris, Seventeenth-Century Art and Architecture (Upper Saddle River: Laurence King, 2008)

Richard Krautheimer, The Rome of Alexander VII, 1655-1667 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985)

S. J. Freedberg, Circa 1600: A Revolution of Style in Italian Painting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986)

Rudolf Wittkower, Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600-1750. 3 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)

Victor Stoichita, The Self-Aware Image: An Insight into Early Modern Metapainting (New York and London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2015)

Michael North and Catherine Hiller, Art and Commerce in the Dutch Golden Age (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999)