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

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 course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
100%
(5)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
K.S.
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
P.
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
D.B.
Excellent

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

k
k.d.
Decoding the Renaissance

Very enjoyable series. Highly recommend.

D
D.
Decoding iconography in Renaissance painting

Alessandra has put together a course which is professionally organized and presented, and is exactly what the title indicates. Her enthusiasm for the topic is contagious and she does an excellent job of covering the basics in a complex topic. If you have ever wondered why a particular animal, plant, fruit or insect shows up where and when it does in a Renaissance painting, you will enjoy this course which covers both iconography and some cultural history of the origins and uses of these symbols. The lectures are well organized and presented with plenty of examples of the symbols she is discussing - all thoughtfully chosen from museums around the world, making it easy to see one or two at a museum nearby while we are still unable to easily travel. We are half way through and its been an interesting several hours. Looking forward to the rest!

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
100%
(5)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
K.S.
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
P.
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
D.B.
Excellent

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

k
k.d.
Decoding the Renaissance

Very enjoyable series. Highly recommend.

D
D.
Decoding iconography in Renaissance painting

Alessandra has put together a course which is professionally organized and presented, and is exactly what the title indicates. Her enthusiasm for the topic is contagious and she does an excellent job of covering the basics in a complex topic. If you have ever wondered why a particular animal, plant, fruit or insect shows up where and when it does in a Renaissance painting, you will enjoy this course which covers both iconography and some cultural history of the origins and uses of these symbols. The lectures are well organized and presented with plenty of examples of the symbols she is discussing - all thoughtfully chosen from museums around the world, making it easy to see one or two at a museum nearby while we are still unable to easily travel. We are half way through and its been an interesting several hours. Looking forward to the rest!