SPRING COURSE and AUTUMN COURSE
An Introduction to Christian Iconography
Monday 23 – Thursday 26 March 2020
Monday 7 – Thursday 10 September 2020
Dr Federico Botana
This intensive, introductory course is designed for everyone with an interest in the imagery of Christianity.
No previous knowledge is required and the course is open to everyone over the age of 18. The number of participants is limited to 16.
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 shall 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, the Wallace Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Dr Federico Botana is an art historian whose research focuses on the didactic functions of art in the late Middle Ages. He completed his studies at The Courtauld with a PhD on the representation of the works of mercy in medieval Italy, which became the basis for his first book. In 2013, he was awarded a three-year Leverhulme Fellowship for his project ‘Visual Pedagogy in Renaissance Tuscany’, which investigated the uses of illustrated manuscripts in the education of the young in fifteenth-century Florence. He recently completed a book from this research, Learning through Images in the Italian Renaissance (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press, 2021).