JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "World Art III: Visual Culture of the Early Modern World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Carolyn Smyth
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 PM
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays 14:00-17:00 (2-5)

This survey course focuses on the art and architecture of Europe, South and Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and the Americas from the late 1200s to c. AD 1750. The course investigates a range of media including painting, woodcuts, sculpture, and architecture, while considering materials and methods of production. Special attention will be given to the socio-economic and political contexts in which these artifacts were commissioned and produced. The course will also assist students in cultivating basic art-historical skills, in particular description, stylistic analysis, and iconographic and iconological analysis.

             This course, the third in the World Art series, is intended to offer an introduction to significant artistic traditions of art and architecture from the 14th to the 18thC. It is designed both for the student with no previous art history background, and for the student with some experience seeking a general historical overview. Through lectures, class discussions, readings and several visits, the student will become familiar with a variety of period styles and cultures, and key issues and methods central to art-historical study, as well as develop skills of visual analysis.

             We will explore the artistic production of the Renaissance and Baroque in Europe, while also addressing the art of Africa, India, Asia and Latin America in order to understand the questions and themes pertinent to the study of art in general, and to investigate, in a selective way, the importance of exchange and trade in this period of growing cultural interconnection. For example: An examination of 15C painting in Italy and Flanders will reveal common interests in the representation of space, light, and "naturalistic" effects through very distinctive styles, materials, and social structures. A class on Mughal culture will introduce how Islamic rulers in India, from the 15-18C, incorporated previous local traditions, new artistic forms and functions, as well as contemporary Western styles. We will study the art of major European figures such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini (with the advantage of our situation in Rome), while considering as well the sophisticated production of ivory and metalwork in Western Africa, and its relationship with especially Portughese consumption, as an example of cross-cultural exchange. In this way, the course should stimulate consideration of some of the various approaches of art-historical study – the different ways of looking and thinking about art. Through study of important moments and places in the history of art from ca. 1300-1750, the student will be introduced to the basic methods of the field, as well as to the tools which enable a more informed appreciation of painting, sculpture, architecture and other media.


            The range of artworks presented in this course is selective rather than all-inclusive, in the belief that deeper knowledge of a few works and their contexts will supply students with essential art-historical skills, and a foundation for what may be hoped to be a continued involvement with art.


            By including several visits and assignments which will take you to representative sites and collections, the course will take advantage of our special situation in Rome. Relevant monuments which relate to our subject matter will be investigated on several Friday morning visits (TBA). While not possible for all units, a number of on-site discussions, as well as the journal and paper assignments, will enrich this introductory course through the study of original works of art and architecture.





Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History,  ed. F.S. Kleiner, 14th  edition – Volume II – International Edition 



            Students will be expected to develop, in the course of the semester, the following:


-       Ready recognition of selected works and knowledge of basic facts related to them. A basic understanding of the historical development of painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts from the cultures and periods of the course within their cultural, political and ideological contexts.


-       Awareness of problems of interpretation, in relation to the study of selected works; basic familiarity with the subject matter and iconography, function, issues of patronage and purpose of selected works.


-       Development of the visual and analytical skills of looking. The student should achieve a recognition of major period styles; also essential is a perception of the ways in which form and meaning are conjoined.


-       A grasp of the changing function of art as a shifting expression of individuals and institutions in different moments of history. Awareness of the different functions and attitudes toward the purpose of art in different cultures, and the different values placed on artists, media, and the role of art in society.

- An awareness of the variety of visual traditions and of the diverse purposes of art in early modern Europe in comparison with those of other cultures. Understanding of the most general questions which initiate art-historical study, as well as specific case-studies of contemporary non-Western cultures and their contributions and intersections with Europe in a period of "discovery."

- Development of the skills of accurate looking and describing; the articulation of description and analysis in clear verbal expression.


-       Furthering of writing skills: declaration and development of a clearly stated theme, development of methods of argumentation and organization, written expression and structure.


-       Furthering of oral communication skills, through class discussion.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Please see the syllabus with schedule of classesfor the readings.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Please see the syllabus for the readings.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX  

Midterm ExaminationYou will be asked to identify slides, and to write comparative essays on pairs of slides. In addition, you will be shown a work probably not familiar to you, to analyze and to compare to known works. A "Monument List" will be given to you in anticipation of the exam as well as more detailed instructions. Two evening reviews will be scheduled before the examination (pick one) to allow all students to attend. 20%
Final ExaminationTO BE SCHEDULED DURING FINAL EXAMINATION WEEK. Do not plan to leave Rome before the Final Exam Period is over! The Final will follow the same format as the Midterm - identifications, comparisons, one or two "unknown" slides. In addition, you will have an hour essay qwustion which will propose a theme interrelating various works and issues discussed during the semester, in class, readings and visits. (You will be given a choice of three or four essays.) The examination will be cumulative, except for the first part, the Identifications. Again, guidelines and lists will be distributed in advance, and you will have a choice of two evening reviews. 25%
JournalThe Journal is an informal but important assignment to get you to investigate works on your own and in person, and to practice skills and apply ideas learned in class and from the reading. You will visit several different museums and sites and write (handwritten in a notebook - can be retyped if very messy) 3-5 pages of visual analysis on four individual works. A variety of media and cultures should be addressed. The first entry will be due in the first weeks of the course. More detailed instructions will be provided.25%
Short Comparative PaperThe first stage of this assignment is the submission of your topic - two works of art or architecture which are suitable, and stimulating, for comparison. The paper will be due subsequent to approval of the topic. A short (3-4 pp) paper, well-organized, carefully written and edited, will address two works of art related by theme and/or purpose. You might use a work addressed in your Journal (or a new work) and "match" it with another of the same subject, type, or function. The paper must demonstrate research on each work - at least four specialized scholarly articles or books (no Wikipedia!) - as well as a thoughtful comparison of how each creator approached a similar but different task in a distinctive manner. More guidlines to come.20%
Participation in DiscussionActive participation and discussion in class and on visits is of course toward your benefit for the grade - but also, helpful contributions and questions also make the class more interesting and lively for all of us. Keep in mind that this percentage of your grade is an asssessment not simply of your physical presence, but of active involvement in discussion. Also see ("Attendance.") NB: Due to abuse of the employment of computers in the past, computers, pads and I-phones may not be used in the classroom. 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.




Schedule of Classes


The professor reserves the right to make changes in the schedule with advance notice and the agreement of the students.

Pay attention to make-up classes, Friday morning visits (which count as regular classes), and the pre-examination evening reviews. Due the scheduling of classes to only 75 minutes, we will do three on-site visits on Fridays mornings. I must be away for the entire week of Thanksgiving. In addition, the on-site visits provide the wonderful opportunity to learn about important works of art not just from your textbook, but in person, here in Rome!

Suggested supplementary readings will be indicated (forthcoming).



Introduction - Course goals, assignments.


Some basic terms, approaches, and methods of art history through a look at

Late Gothic Art, including crucifixes, reliefs for pulpits, frescoes, sculpture and architecture in Italy – and a visit to the church of S. Maria in Trastevere to study Pietro Cavallini’s mosaics (1290’s)!

Required Reading: Gardner, Introduction: “What is Art History” and Chapter19: “Italy, 1200 to 1400” (=” From Gothic to Renaissance: The Fourteenth Century in Italy”)

Recommended Reading: John White, Art and Architecture in Italy (Pelican History of Art; 1st ed. 1966), New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1993 – Chapter 24, “Giotto,” pp309-332

 - Early Renaissance Art in the Netherlands: especially the painting of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 20: “Northern Europe 1400-1500“ (=”15C Art in Northern Europe”)

Recommended Reading: Craig Harbison, Chapter I, “Introduction,” and Chapter II, “Van Eyck’s Realism” in Jan van Eyck. The Play of Realism, London: Reaktion Books, 1991, pp9-18  ND673 E8807

  -Early Renaissance Art and Architecture in Italy, especially in Florence. The interest in ancient culture for “humanistic” purposes; a new attitude toward rendering nature; courts vs. republics; one-point perspective; civic participation and individuality in the Renaissance and in Renaissance art and architecture of the 15C.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 21: “Italy 1400 to 1500”(=“15C Italian Art”)

Recommended Reading: Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, Oxford UP (1972) 1988 – Chapter II, “The Period Eye,” pp29-108


 - Some principles of High Renaissance art and architecture in Italy. Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bramante, especially in Florence and Rome. Pope Julius II and the triumph of the papacy in the Eternal City.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 22:”Italy 1500 to 1600” (=“The High Renaissance and Mannerism”)


FRIDAY VISIT, 10:30 – 12:30

A Visit to the Villa Farnesina – Meet me at the entrance of JCU at 10:00 sharp!

An on-site introduction to some issues concerning High Renaissance painting and architecture: Patronage, society, and the model of classical culture.  

 – High Renaissance in Italy, con.


Do submit  your entry in a proper notebook; this will serve for subsequent entries.

NB: Loose pages will not be accepted for this assignment!

  - Other Currents in Italian Renaissance Art. Venice and Northern Italy, especially Titian and Correggio. The Later Renaissance and “Mannerism.”

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 22: later section on Venetian art and Mannerism.



TBA – probably a visit up the Gianicolo hill – Bramante’s Tempietto


 – The Art of West Africa

Forms and functions of the art of the royal cultures of Benin, the Yoruba, Kongo, Kuba and other significant domains from the 15C to more recent times. Problematics of history, values and interpretation, demanding distinct art-historical methods. Interconnections between the two continents – trade and exchange.

N.B: We might be visiting the Museo Pigorini in EUR to see some very fine examples of African art in person – Friday TBA (see below)

Required Reading: Gardner Vol. I: Chapter 15, “South of the Sahara; Early African Art”

And Vol. II: Chapter 37, on later African art.

Frank Willett, African Art (1971), 1995 revised edition: Chapters I, II and Six   N7380.W5


 - The art of Northern Europe in the 16C: Dürer, and the legacy of northern naturalism in the North; the interconnections of Flanders and Spain in art, in collecting.

Required Reading: Chapter 23: “Northern Europe and Spain, 1500-1600”



Submit notebook with second new entry; also be sure to include your first one (IMPORTANT)!


  - Baroque art and architecture in Italy. The expression of the Counter-Reformation in Rome – St. Peter’s, Bernini, and Borromini. New trends introduced to Rome in the painting of Caravaggio and the Carracci. Opening the heavens – ceiling decoration in church and palace.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 24, “Italy and Spain 1600 to 1700”



Monday and Tuesday evenings (exact time TBA; pick one) – REVIEWS for the Midterm Examination




FRIDAY VISIT, 10:00 – 12:00

“The Quirinale Baroque Experience:” Four Baroque Churches and some principles of 17C art and architecture in Rome; Maderno, Bernini and Borromini, and more. Meet in front of the church of S.Susanna.

  – Mughal Art and Architecture: A second introduction to non-Western art through some examples of Mughal art (Muslim art of India) contemporary with the Western “Renaissance and Baroque period:” intersections with Europe (to help understanding of our study of the various functions of art), and a study of different patronage, conceptions of creativity, and purposes of art in a diverse context  

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 26, “South and Southeast Asia after 1200”


- Baroque painting in Flanders: Peter Paul Rubens: Rubens’ Italian experience, Antwerp,  and his international career.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 25:”Northern European Art 1600 to 1700”


 - French art and architecture in the Baroque period: Nicholas Poussin, a learned French painter in Rome. The court of Louis XIV and the style of absolute monarchy in art and architecture, at Paris and Versailles.

Required Reading:Gardner, Chapter 25, section on French art


Submit a typed, substantial paragraph indicating the two works you have selected for the 4-page comparative paper; indicate the rationale behind your choice; that is, why the topic will make an interesting essay.


– French art and architecture in the Baroque, con.


 - Baroque art in Spain, with special attention to Velazquez at the Hapsburg court of Philip IV in Madrid. Royal patronage, Spanish Catholicism, and a devotion to naturalism.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 24, section on Spain


- Baroque painting in the Dutch Republic. The development of the humble genres in Holland -portraiture, still-life, genre and landscape.  Rembrandt’s spiritual vision in painting and prints.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 25, section on Rembrandt and Dutch painting


– Baroque art in the Dutch Republic, con.



– FRIDAY VISIT, 10:30-12:00 (tentative)

Visit to the Museo Nazionale Preistorico-Etnografico Luigi Pigorini (EUR). We will enjoy a survey of African art in the small but impressive (and historical) collection within this museum.


- The Baroque in England.  Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren – architecture reigns supreme in new interpretations of the Renaissance and the classical. A look as well at the contributions of Rubens and Van Dyck in England royal patronage.

Required Reading: Gardner, Chapter 25, section on English art and architecture
Other reading TBA


COMPLETED JOURNAL DUE  - Submit first two entries, along with two new entries; four total


Monday and Tuesday evenings (exact time TBA; pick one) REVIEWS for the Final Examination


FINAL EXAMINATION – to be scheduled, December 4-7

Do not plan to leave Rome before the last exam date! Pre-Final Examinations will NOT be an option.