History of Western Art: Renaissance to Revolution, 1300 – 1800

Who was Leonardo da Vinci? Who were the great female artists of the Baroque? What role did art play in the French Revolution? This course will survey art and architecture made from the Late Gothic in Italy through the Enlightenment. We will focus on turning points in the historical narrative including the rise of Florence and Siena, the Reformation and its impact on Baroque art in Catholic and Protestant Europe, the scientific revolution, and the political revolutions of the 18th century. The art and architecture produced from the early 1300s to the end of the 1700s saw some of the most important art the world has ever produced and laid the foundation for the world we live in now.

Introduction to art history
Why look at art?
How to do visual analysis
How art can help you analyze
Art historical analysis with Goya’s Third of May, 1808
What is art history?
Introduction to art historical analysis
How to do visual analysis

A brief history of Western culture
Common questions about dates
The five major world religions
A brief history of religion in art
What maps tell us
Is there a difference between art and craft?
What made art valuable—then and now
A brief history of the body in Western sculpture
A brief history of the body in Western painting

Art terms explained
Chiaroscuro explained
Foreshortening explained
Linear perspective explained
Atmospheric perspective explained

Terms and concepts to know:

  • Classical Antiquity (ancient Greece and Rome)
  • Middle ages, Medieval
  • patron
  • commission
  • composition
  • Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
  • New Testament
  • naturalism
  • transcendent
  • free-standing
  • formal analysis
  • guild
  • Humanism

Late Gothic art in Italy (Florence and Siena) (c. 1250-1400)

Christianity, an introduction
Standard scenes from the life of Christ in art
Architecture and liturgy
Introduction to the Middle Ages
A new pictorial language: the image in Early Medieval art

Materials and techniques
Gold-ground panel painting
Art terms in action: paint
The conservator’s eye: Gaddi, Saint Julian

Introduction to Late Gothic Art
Introduction to Late Gothic art
The Black Death
Altarpieces in context
Distorting the Madonna in medieval art

Siena and Florence in the Late Gothic period
Siena in the Late Gothic, an introduction, quiz
    Maesta, front and back, 1308-11, quiz
    Rucellai Madonna, 1285-86, quiz
Ambrogio Lorenzetti
    Allegory & Effect of Good and Bad Government, c. 1337-40, quiz
    Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 1342
Simone Martini, Annunciation, 1333, quiz
Florence in the Late Gothic period, an introduction, quiz
Gothic Visions: Illustrating a Fifteenth-Century Italian Altarpiece
Cimabue, Santa Trinita Madonna, 1280-90
Cimabue and Giotto compared
    Arena Chapel, Padua, c. 1305, overview, cycle, Lamentation, Last Judgment, quiz
    Ognissanti Madonna, 1306-10, quiz

Terms and concepts to know:

  • illusionism
  • tempera
  • fresco
  • Black Death (Bubonic Plague)
  • Humanism
  • contrapposto
  • foreshortening
  • chiaroscuro/modeling
  • volume
  • altarpiece
  • prophets
  • multiple viewpoints
  • diptych, triptych, polyptych

The Renaissance in Italy: Sculpture & Architecture (c. 1400s)

A beginner’s guide to Renaissance Florence
How to recognize Italian Renaissance art
Florence in the Early Renaissance
The study of anatomy
Linear perspective: Brunelleschi’s experiment
How one-point linear perspective works
Linear perspective (interactive)
Early applications of linear perspective
The classical orders
Orsanmichele and Donatello, St. Mark

Sculpture & Architecture
Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1401-2, quiz
Ghiberti, “Gates of Paradise,” east doors of the Florence Baptistry, 1425-52
    Old Sacristy, c. 1421
    Dome of the Duomo, 1420-36, quiz
    Pazzi Chapel, begun 1420s, quiz
    Santo Spirito, 1428-81
Nanni di Banco, Four Crowned Saints, c. 1410-16
    St. Mark, 1411-13, quiz
    The Feast of Herod, 1423-27
    David, late 1420s-60s, quiz
    Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata, 1445-53
    Mary Magdalene, c. 1455
    Palazzo Ruccellai, c. 1446-51, quiz
    Façade of Santa Novella, 1470
    Sant’Andrea, Mantua, 1472-90

Terms and concepts to know:

  • guild
  • civic pride
  • equestrian sculpture
  • republic
  • niche
  • linear perspective, orthogonals,  vanishing point, horizon line
  • Pietra Serena

The Renaissance in Italy: painting (c. 1400s)

Early Renaissance Painting in Florence, quiz
Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi, 1423
    Virgin and Child Enthroned, 1426
    Holy Trinity, c. 1427, quiz
    The Tribute Money, 1427, quiz
    Expulsion, c. 1424-27
Fra Angelico, Annunciation, c. 1438-47, quiz
Fra Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child with Angels, c. 1460-65, quiz
Domenico Veneziano, St. Lucy Altarpiece, 1445-47
Perugino, Christ giving the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter, 1481-83
    Primavera, 1481-82
    Birth of Venus, 1483-85, quiz
Paolo Uccello, Battle of San Romano, 1483-85
Ghirlandaio, Birth of the Virgin, c. 1485-90
Antonio Pollaiuolo, Battle of Ten Nudes, c. 1465

Early Renaissance painting in central Italy
Piero della Francesca
    Baptism of Christ, 1450s, quiz
    Flagellation of Christ, c. 1455-65
    Resurrection, c. 1463-65
    Duke and Duchess of Urbino, 1467-72, quiz
Luca Signorelli, The Damned Cast into Hell, 1499-1504

Terms and concepts to know:

  • bronze
  • lost-wax casting
  • secular
  • sacra conversazione
  • coffer
  • barrel vault
  • pilaster
  • classical orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)
  • continuous narrative
  • St. Peter
  • Pantheon
  • memento mori

Renaissance in Venice (c. 1400s-1500s)

Venetian art: an introduction, quiz 1, quiz 2
Oil paint in Venice
Ca’ d’Oro, 1422-40
Palazzo Ducale, 1340 and after
Saving Venice
    St. Francis, c. 1480
    San Giobbe Altarpiece, c. 1485
    San Zaccaria Altarpiece, 1505

    San Zeno Altarpiece, 1456-59
    Saint Sebastian, ca. 1456-59
    Camera degli Sposi, 1465-74
    Dead Christ, c. 1480–1500
    The Tempest, c. 1506-8
    Three Philosophers, c. 1506
    Pastoral Concert, c. 1509     
    Assumption of the Virgin, c. 1516-18
    Madonna of the Pesaro Family, 1519-26
    Venus of Urbino, 1538, quiz

    Titian and Jacopo Palma il Giovane, Pietà, c. 1570-76

    Assumption of the Virgin, 1526-30

    Jupiter and Io, 1532-33

    The Family of Darius before Alexander, 1565-67

    Feast in the House of Levi, 1573
    The Miracle of the Slave, 1548
    Finding of the Body of Saint Mark, c. 1562-66

    Last Supper, 1594

    La Rotunda, 1566-1590s
    Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, Italy, 1580-85

Terms and concepts to know:


  • Di sotto in sù


  • glazing

The Renaissance in Northern Europe (c. 1400s)

The Northern Renaissance, an introduction, quiz 1, quiz 2
Introduction to Burgundy in the 15th century
Northern Renaissance art under Burgundian rule
Introduction to 15th century Flanders
Biblical Storytelling
Sluter, The Well of Moses, 1395-1405, quiz
    Sluter (with Claus de Werve), Mourners, 1410
Workshop of Campin, Annunciation Triptych (Merode Altarpiece), 1425-28, quiz
Jan van Eyck
    Ghent Altarpiece, completed 1432, quiz
    Portrait of a Man in a Red Turban, 1433
    Portrait of Arnolfini and his Wife, 1434, quiz
Petrus Christus, Portrait of a Carthusian, 1446

    A Goldsmith in his Shop, 1449
Rogier van der Weyden
    Deposition, c. 1435, quiz
    Last Judgment, 1443-51
    The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist Mourning, c. 1460
Limbourg Brothers, The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409
Wilton Diptych, c. 1395-99

Materials and techniques
Quarrying and carving marble
Carving marble with traditional tools
Bronze-casting technique

Terms and concepts to know:

  • Burgundy
  • lost-wax process

The Renaissance Northern Europe continues (c. 1500s)

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation
The Protestant Reformation, quiz
Setting the Stage, part 1
Martin Luther, part 2
Varieties of Protestantism, part 3
The Counter-Reformation, part 4
Lucas Cranach, The Law and the Gospel, c. 1529
The Renaissance in Spain

Art in Northern Europe at the time of the Reformation (c. 1500s), quiz
Michael Pacher, St. Wolfgang Altarpiece, c. 1479-81


    The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1480-1505

    Last Judgment Triptych, 1504-08

Grünewald, Isenheim Altarpiece, c. 1510-15, quiz

Gerard David, The Virgin and Child with Saints and Donor, c. 1510
    Self Portrait, 1500, quiz
    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1498
    Melancolia, 1514
    Adam and Eve, 1504
    The Four Apostles, 1526

Gossaert, Saint Luke Painting the Madonna, c. 1515-25
Altdorfer, The Battle of Issus, 1529

Holbein, Ambassadors, 1533
Aertsen, A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms, 1551
    The Tower of Babel, 1563     
    Hunters in the Snow, 1565, quiz
    Peasant Wedding, 1567

Terms and concepts to know:

  • transubstantiation
  • Reformation
  • Counter-Reformation
  • Council of Trent
  • Martin Luther
  • 95 Theses
  • indulgences
  • iconoclasm

The High Renaissance in Italy (c. 1500s)

Toward the High Renaissance, quiz
Galileo Galilei
Galileo and Renaissance art
About Leonardo
Leonardo, Letter to the Duke of Milan
    Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man of math (from Ted ED)
    Virgin of the Rocks, c. 1491-1508
    Adoration of the Magi, 1481
    Virgin and Child with St. Anne St. John the Baptist, 1499-1500
    Last Supper, 1495-98, quiz
    Mona Lisa, c. 1503-05
    Tempietto, c. 1502
    St. Peter’s Basilica, begun 1506, completed 1626
Michelangelo, painter, sculptor and architect
    Pietà, 1498-1500
    David, 1501-04
    Moses, 1513-15
    Slaves, 1513-15
    Sistine Chapel ceiling, 1508-12, quiz
    Study for the Libyan Sibyl, c. 1510–11
    Last Judgment, altar wall of the Sistine chapel, 1534-41
    Medici Chapel (New Sacristy), 1519-34
    Laurentian Library, begun 1524, opened 1571
    Portrait of Julius II, 1511
    Madonna of the Goldfinch, 1505-6
    School of Athens, 1509-11, quiz
    Galatea, c. 1513
    Portrait of Pope Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de’Medici and Luigi de’Rossi, c. 1518

Mannerism, quiz
A beginner’s guide to Mannerism
Pontormo, Entombment, 1525-28, quiz
    Madonna with the Long Neck, 1530-33
    Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1523-24
Bronzino, An Allegory with Venus and Cupid, c. 1545
Cellini, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, c. 1554
Sofonisba Anguissola, Self-Portrait, c. 1556
Giambologna, Abduction of a Sabine Woman, 1581-83
El Greco
    View of Toledo, 1598-99
    Burial of Count Orgaz, 1586–88

Terms and concepts to know:

  • sfumato
  • Madonna of Humility
  • Pope Julius II
  • Sistine Chapel
  • papacy/papal
  • Vatican, prophets
  • sibyls
  • ignudi
  • blessed/damned


Baroque Art in Italy (c. 1600s)

Introduction to Baroque art
Baroque art in Europe, an introduction, quiz
How to recognize Baroque art
Francis Bacon and the Scientific Revolution
A brief history of women in art

Baroque art in Italy, quiz
    Apollo and Daphne, 1622-25     
    David, 1523, quiz
    Baldacchino, 1624-33
    Ecstasy of St. Theresa, 1647-52, quiz
    Cathedra Petri, 1647-53
    St. Peter’s Square, 1656-67

    The Calling of St. Matthew, c. 1599-1600, quiz
    Deposition (or Entombment), c. 1600-04
    Conversion of St. Paul, c. 1601
    The Death of the Virgin, 1605-06

Annibale Carracci, Christ Appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way, 1601-02
Reni, Aurora, ceiling fresco in the Casino dell’Aurora, Rome, 1613-14
Gentileschi, Judith and Holofernes, 1620-21
Gaulli, Triumph of the Name of Jesus, 1672-85
Pozzo, Glorification of Saint Ignatius, commissioned in 1695

Terms and concepts to know:

  • di sotto in sù
  • quadrature


Baroque art in Northern Europe and Spain (c. 1600s)

Baroque art in the Spanish Netherlands, quiz
    Elevation of the Cross, 1610
    The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, 1617-18
    Presentation of the Portrait of Marie de Medici, c. 1622-1625
    Arrival of Marie de Medici, 1621-25
    Venus, Mars and Cupid, c.1630-35
    Consequences of War, 1638-39
Van Dyck
    Samson and Delilah, c. 1618-20
    Charles I at the Hunt, c. 1635

Baroque art in the Dutch Republic, quiz
Pieter Jansz. Saenredam
    Interior of Saint Bavo, Haarlem, 1631
    Singing Boy with Flute, c. 1623
    The Women Regents, c. 1664

    The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp, 1632
    Self-Portrait with Saskia, 1636
    Night Watch, 1642
    Girl at a Window, 1645
    Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653
    Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses, 1653
    Self-Portrait, 1659
    Man Offering Money to a Woman (The Proposition), 1631
    Self-Portrait, c. 1633
    Woman Holding a Balance, 1664, quiz
    Girl with a Pearl Earring, c. 1665
    The Art of Painting, 1666-69
Kalf, Still Life with Silver Ewer, 1660
Steen, The Feast of St Nicholas, 1665-68
Gerrit Dou, A Woman Playing a Clavichord, c. 1665
Jacob van Ruisdael, View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds, c. 1670-75
    Fruit and Insects, 1711
    Flower Still-Life, c. 1726

Baroque art in Spain, quiz
Cotán, Quince, Melon and Cucumber, 1602
    The Surrender of Breda, 1634-35
    Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), c. 1656, quiz

Baroque art in France, quiz
Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1637-38
Perralt, East façade of the Louvre, Paris, 1774
Rigaud, Louis XIV, 1701
Versailles, 1664-1710, quiz

Baroque in England
Inigo Jones, The Banqueting House, Whitehall, London 1619–22
Christopher Wren, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, begun 1675, completed 1711

Terms and concepts to know:

  • genre painting
  • painterly


Rococo and Neoclassicism (c. 1700-1800)

Introduction to the age of the Enlightenment
The Tiepolo Family

Rococo (in France)
A beginner’s guide to Rococo
Antoine Watteau, Pilgrimage to Cythera, 1717
François Boucher, Madame de Pompadour, 1750
Greuze, The Village Bride, 1761
Jean-Honoré Fragonard
    The Swing, 1767
    The Meeting, 1771-73
Vigée Le Brun
    Self-Portrait with her Daughter, Julie, 1789
    Self-Portrait, 1790

NeoClassicism in France, quiz

Neo-Classicism, an introduction

Jacques-Louis David
Oath of the Horatii, 1784, quiz
Death of Marat, 1793
Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1800-1

Angelica Kauffmann, Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to her Children as Her Treasures, c. 1785


Terms and concepts to know:

  • Reign of Terror
  • absolute monarchy
  • divine right of kings
  • Enlightenment
  • ancien regime
  • aristocracy
  • Jacobin
  • empiricism


Cite this page as: Smarthistory, "History of Western Art: Renaissance to Revolution, 1300 – 1800," in Smarthistory, November 10, 2018, accessed August 19, 2019, https://smarthistory.org/history-of-western-art-renaissance-to-revolution-1300-1800/.