Paola Modesti (Venice International University)


From 11:00
to 12:30
From 11:00
to 12:30

Focusing on the built and architectural heritage of Venice, this course aims at gaining first-hand experience and a critical understanding, through historical perspectives, of a multifaceted and engaging phenomenon: the distinctive participation of Venice in the Italian Renaissance, the great cultural and artistic revival, begun in the mid-fourteenth century and flourishing until the late sixteenth century, that was inspired by the achievements of antiquity.

Course topics

Renaissances, Italian Renaissance, Italian Renaissance architecture. Essentials and observations
Building the city, the identity, and the ‘myths’ of Venice
Venice’s hubs: Rialto and Piazza San Marco
Venice’s heart: the church of San Marco
A holy city: architecture and art of Venetian churches
Architecture and art of the Venetian Scuole and Scuole Grandi. The contribution of the social minorities
“In our particular way”. The evolving Venetian tradition of ‘great’ and ‘simple’ houses
Architecture and architectural practice in fifteenth-century Venice: I. The Lombardo workshop; II. Mauro Codussi (c. 1440-1504)
Jacopo Sansovino (1486-1570). Venice as a new Rome
Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and Venice. A problematic relationship.

To encourage awareness of cultural diversity, cultural exchanges and comparative views, classes may also include short student presentations on the cultural and built heritage of the students’ own countries, according to a schedule to be arranged at the beginning of the course.

Learning objectives

- overall knowledge of the built and artistic heritage of Venice, detailed knowledge of the course topics;
- knowledge of key issues relating to fifteenth- and sixteenth-century architecture in Italy and of Renaissance architecture and art;
- comprehension and use of the specific terminology of art history and architecture, including the fundamentals of the classical language of architecture;
- familiarity with analysis and interpretation of architectural works;
- familiarity with visual and written study materials relating to the architectural and artistic heritage;
- ability to produce and present a research paper involving visual analysis, reading of scholarly publications, and critical thinking.


Course structure, activities and requirements

In-door classes, consisting in lectures and discussions with PPT presentations, student presentations and student-led discussions will alternate with site visits. The specific ways of the students’ involvement will be tailored on the number and backgrounds of the course participants, to encourage cooperation and cultural exchange.

Trips to Ravenna, Torcello, and to a Palladian country house in the mainland, as well as a night visit to the church of San Marco, and guided visits to the Doge’s Palace and to the Ghetto, which VIU will organize as co-curricular activities, will also constitute integral part of this course.

Students are expected to attend and participate actively in all the course activities. They should also be flexible about the timetable in case of outside lessons, which could overlap the lunch break to allow time to reach the visit sites.

In the first half of the term students will be required to weekly submit short reports on assigned field works or/and readings, containing their observations and insights, which will be shared as material for class discussions. Meanwhile they will choose a research topic relating to the course contents, which will be the subject of a mid-term oral presentation and will be further developed into a final written paper of about 5 pages (following a guideline that will be provided during the course).


The final grade will be based on:
- attendance, participation in the course activities, contribution to discussions, class presentations and weekly assignments (30%);
- oral presentation of the topic of the research paper (20%)
- final research paper, which must be handed by the end of the course and will be discussed individually in the exam week (50%).


The publications listed below, all available in the VIU library, are indicated as general reference and orientation material. Specific readings and bibliographies will be provided in the e-learning platform of the course.

Dictionary of Architecture:
- James Stevens Curl, Susan Wilson, The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, Oxford (UK), Oxford University Press, 2016. VIU library 720.3/CUR.

A guide to architecture throughout the world and throughout history, with proper terminology:
- The Grammar of Architecture, ed. by Emily Cole, Boston-New York-London, Bulfinch Press 2002. VIU library 720.351/COL.

Architecture in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries:
- The Renaissance from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo. The Representation of Architecture, edited by Henry A. Millon and Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, London, Thames and Hudson, 1994. VIU library 720/MIL.
- Wolfgang Lotz, Architecture in Italy 1500-1600, revised edition with an introduction by Deborah Howard, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995. VIU library 720/LOT.

Venetian architecture:
- Ennio Concina, A History of Venetian Architecture, Cambridge (UK), New York, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1998. VIU library 720.945311/CON VEN.
- Deborah Howard, The Architectural History of Venice, revised and enlarged edition, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2002, with Glossary of architectural terms and Venetian words. VIU library 720.945311/HOW VEN.
- Deborah Howard, Venetian Architecture, in A Companion to Venetian History, 1400-1797, edited by Eric. R. Dursteler, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2013, pp. 743-778. VIU library 945.31 DUR VEN.

Architecture in Venice in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries:
- John McAndrew, Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance, Cambridge Mass. The M.I.T. Press, 1980. VIU library 720.945311/MCA VEN.
- Manfredo Tafuri, Venice and the Renaissance, translated by Jessica Levine, Cambridge Mass. and London, The M.I.T. Press, 1989 (original Italian edition Turin 1985). VIU library 720.945311/TAF VEN
- Norbert Huse and Wolfgang Wolters, The Art of Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting, 1460-1590, Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, 1990 (original German edition München 1986). VIU library 709.45311/HUS VEN.
- Manuela Morresi, “Treatises and the Architecture of Venice in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” in Paper Palaces. The Rise of the Renaissance Architectural Treatise, ed. by Vaughan Hart with Peter Hicks, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1998, pp. 263-280. VIU library 720/HAR.
- Richard Goy, Building Renaissance Venice: Patrons, Architects and Builders, c. 1430-1500, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2006. VIU library 720.945311/GOY VEN.
- Deborah Howard, Venice Disputed: Marc'Antonio Barbaro and Venetian Architecture: 1550-1600, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2011. VIU library 720.945311/HOW VEN.

A comprehensive textbook on Renaissance Venice:
- Patricia Fortini Brown, Art and Life in Renaissance Venice, New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1997. VIU library 709.4531/BRO VEN.

The ‘myths’ of Venice:
- David Rosand, Myths of Venice. The Figuration of a State, Chapel Hill and London, The University of North Carolina Press, 2001. VIU library 321.86.7 ROS VEN.
- Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan, Venice Triumphant. The Horizons of a Myth, translated by Lydia G. Cochrane, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 2002 (original French edition, Paris 1999). VIU library 945.31/CRO VEN.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

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