BA Art History and German

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Art of Fourteenth Century Italy

Course unit fact file
Unit code AHCP23921
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Art History and Cultural Practices
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to the visual culture of fourteenth-century Italy. This was a period of great change. Art and society were influenced by commerce from Europe and Asia. Religious orders flourished and provided the impetus for massive schemes of building and painting. Painters and craftsmen were supported by a newly rising merchant class eager to commission works of art for their homes and for local churches. The rulers of the various Italian states also used art to demonstrate their power and knowledge. This resulted in remarkable works, in which artists engaged in different ways with the world around them.


This course unit aims to: -

  • introduce students to primary and secondary source material – visual and textual – for studying Italian art of the fourteenth century
  • place Italian fourteenth century art within a wider European and world context
  • consider the impact of state and religious institutions on art and artists
  • identify mechanisms of iconography, narrative and patronage
  • examine artists’ technical and organizational practices

Knowledge and understanding


By the end of this course students will be able to: -

  • identify different types of sources for fourteenth century Italian art
  • explain key issues in the study of Italian art in this period including panel painting, fresco painting, workshop practices, iconography, narrative methods and patronage
  • identify and discuss continuities and discontinuities in works by Italian artists in this period


By the end of this course students will be able to: -

  • engage critically with the artistic and cultural production of fourteenth century Italy
  • understand and use specialist language relevant to the creation, display and use of buildings, sculpture, paintings and other artistic products
  • relate fourteenth century Italian artistic production to wider debates about art, both during the Middle Ages and subsequently.

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course students will be able to: -

  • analyse critically different types of sources
  • articulate intellectual arguments orally and in writing
  • show how political, religious and social contexts are relevant to interpretations of art
  • compare ideas about art in the Middle Ages with ideas about art in other periods

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to: -

  • identify and evaluate different types of sources for discussing art and visual culture
  • identify and contextualise different modes of writing about art
  • read texts effectively
  • write essays or reports that select, organize, interpret and evaluate material in response to given questions

Transferable skills and personal qualities

 By the end of this course students will be able to: -

  • attend closely to visual, written and spoken evidence
  • participate confidently and appropriately in group situations (e.g. seminars, group projects)
  • communicate ideas in a logical and engaging manner, both orally and in writing
  • manage time effectively
  • respond positively to constructive feedback

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Annotated Bibliography 0%
Essay 50%
Exam 50%


Recommended reading

  • David Bomford et al., Art in the Making. Italian Painting Before 1400 (London: Yale University Press, 2002 [1989])
  • Chiara Frugoni, A Day in a Medieval City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005)
  • Diana Norman (ed.), Siena, Florence and Padua: Art, Society and Religion 1280-1400, 2 vols (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1995)
  • Daniel Waley and Trevor Dean, The Italian City Republics (Harlow: Pearson, 2010)
  • John White, Art and Architecture in Italy 1250-1400 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Cordelia Warr Unit coordinator

Return to course details