An Introduction to Christian Iconography
Monday 8 – Thursday 11 April 2019
Dr Federico Botana
The Virgin Mary, the Nativity of Christ, prophets and saints, the Last Judgement, Paradise and Hell: these subjects have inspired artists to create some of the most outstanding works in the history of art. They all are Christian themes and originate in texts – in the Old Testament of the Jews, the New Testament of the followers of Christ, and in accounts of saintly lives. Well into the eighteenth century and beyond, much of Western art represented Christian themes. To help us understand such art better, this course offers an in-depth introduction to Christian iconography. The main visual themes will be discussed in detail, introducing their textual sources and their underlying doctrinal aspects. Students will learn how these themes were represented in key periods in the history of art, notably in the early Christian, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras. We will look at paintings, mosaics, stained-glass windows, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts and objects intended for church decoration and the celebration of Christian rites. Historical context, tradition and innovation, and the intended functions of works of art will be addressed.
Morning sessions in the classroom will be complemented by afternoon visits to the National Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Dr Federico Botana is at present co-director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. He completed his master’s and doctoral studies at The Courtauld. His research interests mainly concern the uses of didactic images in Renaissance Italy. In 2013 he was awarded a three-year Leverhulme Fellowship for his project Visual Pedagogy in Renaissance Tuscany. His publications include a monograph on the representation of poor relief in medieval Italian art and a series of articles on illuminated manuscripts. He is currently completing a book on didactic illustrations in fifteenth-century Florentine manuscripts.