This course, designed as a “Grand Tour”, explores the exceptionally rich visual culture of Western Europe in the seventeenth century. This visual culture encompasses paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, buildings and decorative arts. With a strong historical background, this course discusses how the production, patronage and reception of art was shaped by powerful political, religious, social and cultural factors.
The course covers several significant centres of power: the cities of Rome, Madrid, Paris (Versailles), Antwerp, Amsterdam and London. Palaces, churches, portraiture and the broader apparatus of magnificence feature prominently.
Amidst this contextual backdrop, you will become closely acquainted with the celebrated artists of the period: Annibale Carracci, Caravaggio and Bernini in Rome; Velazquez in Madrid; Mansart and Le Brun at Versailles; Rubens in Antwerp; Rembrandt in Amsterdam; and Van Dyck, Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren in London.
In addition to a broader historical and art historical knowledge of the period, you will become conversant with the vocabulary used to describe art and architecture. Assessments endeavour to develop strong skills in visual analysis, critical reading and thinking. There is a traditional essay assignment as well as an assignment based on an artwork in the Auckland Art Gallery aimed at refining skills in art writing and connoisseurship. The exam includes both traditional essays as well as image-focused analysis.