Decoding the Renaissance: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Alessandra Becucci

Decoding the Renaissance: A Four-Part Course with Dr. Alessandra Becucci


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Why is Botticelli’s Venus standing on a shell? What does the cat by Judas mean in Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper? Why is the baby Jesus often clutching a pomegranate? What is a skull doing in the middle of a fruit still life? During this four-part course, we will learn to decipher the meaning of some of the most common and most esoteric symbols in European art. Led by Florentine art historian Alessandra Becucci, we will explore iconic works to gain a new and nuanced understanding of early-modern visual culture.

 

Lecture 1: The Plant World

In this first lecture, we’ll focus on the plant world. Honing in on the vegetation of verdant landscapes to seemingly decorative vases of flowers in historical paintings and still lifes, we’ll dissect the hidden meanings of these symbols that guided early modern viewers through the artwork’s narrative.

Lecture 2: The Animal World

From the lion sacred to Mars to the goldfinch in Raffaello’s Virgin Mary, this second lecture will explore the dialogue between human beings and the natural through the representation of animals in both sacred and secular Renaissance art.

Lecture 3 Biblical Figures and the Canon of Saints

Was it an apple or a fig? Beginning with Adam and Eve, this lecture will decipher the iconography of the most important figures in the Bible, such as Noah, David, and Judith, and many of the saints of the Christian tradition.

Lecture 4: Allegories, Myths, and Symbols of Power

Representations of complex abstract concepts— such as fortune, time, power, love, and the cosmic order— challenged the imaginations of early-modern artists. This lecture will delve into the visual tropes that made such complexity understandable to different audiences in the Renaissance.

Born and raised in Florence, Alessandra has a degree in art history from the University of Florence with a specialization in seventeenth-century painting. She obtained an MRes from the European University Institute in Florence, where she defended her Ph.D in history, focusing on the patronage of Tuscan nobility in Europe during the seventeenth century. She has been teaching art history and Italian for several years in various schools and institutions in Florence.

 

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

Yes. All our courses are recorded so if you need to miss a lecture you’ll be sent a recording to watch at your convenience.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
88%
(7)
0%
(0)
13%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
AC (Sydney, AU)
Fabulous

This is a fascinating lecture which taught me a lot about the symbolism of flowers and more. Superb range of art works provided as examples. Beautiful reproductions.

A
Anonymous (Evanston, US)
Always a pleasure to listen to Dr. Becucci.

Excellent course.. Dr. Becucci.is a master of her subject and most interesting.

K
Kris Shapar (Stuttgart, DE)
Invaluable course

As knowledge of the iconography of Western paintings recedes, this course becomes ever more necessary to give us the tools we need to decipher the paintings. Dr Becucci has a thorough knowledge of the subject and presents it in depth and clearly.

P
Pam (Bethesda, US)
Excellent presentation

Dr Becucci offers a well organized course that after 4 sessions provides the insight necessary to better appreciate Renaissance art for the next time you visit a museum. She is extremely knowledgeable and delightful.

D
Deborah Bianco (Denver, US)
Excellent

The course was interesting, informative, and entertaining. The paintings and sculptures Dr. Becucci chose were perfect to illustrate her points.

Customer Reviews

Based on 8 reviews
88%
(7)
0%
(0)
13%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
A
AC (Sydney, AU)
Fabulous

This is a fascinating lecture which taught me a lot about the symbolism of flowers and more. Superb range of art works provided as examples. Beautiful reproductions.

A
Anonymous (Evanston, US)
Always a pleasure to listen to Dr. Becucci.

Excellent course.. Dr. Becucci.is a master of her subject and most interesting.

K
Kris Shapar (Stuttgart, DE)
Invaluable course

As knowledge of the iconography of Western paintings recedes, this course becomes ever more necessary to give us the tools we need to decipher the paintings. Dr Becucci has a thorough knowledge of the subject and presents it in depth and clearly.

P
Pam (Bethesda, US)
Excellent presentation

Dr Becucci offers a well organized course that after 4 sessions provides the insight necessary to better appreciate Renaissance art for the next time you visit a museum. She is extremely knowledgeable and delightful.

D
Deborah Bianco (Denver, US)
Excellent

The course was interesting, informative, and entertaining. The paintings and sculptures Dr. Becucci chose were perfect to illustrate her points.