The Italian art of the Fifteenth Century in the face of the new Flemish painting: genres, patrons, artists, local schools.

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The course is primarily intended for PhD students, although it may be useful as an in-depth study for particularly interested undergraduate students.


The course aims to trace the rapid, vast and varying fortunes enjoyed by Northern European painting from the so-called “Autumn of the Middle Ages” in the most diverse regions of Italy at the dawning of our Renaissance, thanks to a complex network of actions for which the artists on both sides of the Alps were principally but not exclusively responsible.

(Scheduled for the second half of 2020-2021, the course has been postponed in order to allow for the completion of the course on Donatello, which started in the first half of the academic year).

Educational aims

As for the students of the two undergraduate programmes, this educational cycle also intends first and foremost to provide advanced critical tools to deal with 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. In addition, the exercise of direct exploration of the sources, extending to the ancient literary and archival evidence (biographies, chronicles, correspondence, topographical surveys, travel notes, inventories of goods), aims to channel the learning experience in a context of social history of art, involving patrons, collectors, humanists and the first ‘specialist’ writers.

Bibliographical references

Liana Castelfranchi Vegas, Italia e Fiandra nella pittura del Quattrocento, Milano, Jaca Book, 1983 (to be read together with the review of it by Paula Nuttall, in “The Burlington Magazine”, CXXVIII, 1986, p. 428), re-edition 2021.

Paula Nuttall, From Flanders to Florence: the Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400-1500, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2004.

Antonello da Messina: the complete works, catalogue of the exhibition (Rome, Palazzo del Quirinale, Scuderie Papali, 18.3-25.6.2006), edited by Mauro Lucco, Cinisello Balsamo (Milan), Silvana Editoriale, 2006.

Fiorella Sricchia Santoro, Antonello: i suoi mondi, il suo seguito, Florence, Centro Di, 2017.


Other readings will be recommended during the course.