Introduction to the Flemish painting of the Fifteenth Century.

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The course is intended principally for students of the two undergraduate programmes (regardless of their enrolment years). However, some of the topics covered can also be useful for doctoral students.


The lectures will introduce the undergraduate students to a crucial chapter in the history of Western artistic civilisation that also had an extraordinary impact on the development of figurative art in Italy, albeit never attaining in the last century a stable position in the educational curricula of our universities. The most prominent feature of the presentation will be the paintings and their authors, concentrating on their centres of production and their relationship with their patrons and with the market. In addition to Flanders, importance will also be given to some French and Iberian regions, often essential players in the diffusion of the ‘modern’ Flemish manner into other areas of Europe.

Educational aims

The aim of the course is to provide the students of the undergraduate programmes with advanced critical tools to tackle the ‘mute’ language of works of art of the past, and in particular of painting, both by practising directly on the figurative corpus and by examining the different methods of reading and interpretation utilised in modern studies.

Bibliographical references

Johan Huizinga, L’Autunno del Medioevo (original title in Dutch: Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen: Studie over levens- en gedachtenvormen der veertiende en vijftiende eeuw in Frankrijk en de Nederlanden), 1919, with various reprints and re-editions (also expanded, 1921, 1928) in several languages; latest edition in Italian, edited by Franco Paris: Milan, Feltrinelli, 2020.

Erwin Panofsky, Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character, 2 voll., Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1953, with various reprints, also by other publishers (1958, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1986-87, 2019).

Jean Fouquet: peintre et enlumineur du XVe siècle, catalogue of the exhibition (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 25.3-22.6.2003), edited by François Avril, Paris, Hazan, 2003.

Other readings will be recommended during the course.