Course Title:  01:082:214 Renaissance Art in Europe

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites:  None

Core Curriculum:  HST, AHp

Course Description:

Masterpieces of the European tradition from the 14th through 18th centuries that reveal artistic forms intrinsic to culture north and south of the Alps.  Provides background for an understanding of the development of early modern culture. In our era many European countries have united to form a single state in terms of their monetary systems and many of their regulations. That alliance is showing signs of fraying, because in part they are running counter to more than 1500 years of independence and cultural and linguistic differences. Nowhere is that diversity more apparent than during the Renaissance, defined for our purposes here as the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, which represents a universally recognized high point in artistic achievement all over Europe. This class will examine a series of masterpieces from the European tradition that reveal artistic forms that were intrinsic to culture north and south of the Alps, with the goal of pointing out their different features as well as their commonalities. It will consider these features against the backdrop of the first wide European exposure to cultures outside its boundaries. Most of the objects we’ll study were not considered works of art in their day, but instead visual aids to religious practice, a means of commemorating an individual, or objects to decorate or to promote pleasure. The broader objective is to create a background that leads to a better understanding of the European contribution in the epoch of the development of early modern culture.

Learning Goals:

  • Identify key artists and examples of art that fall in the categories of European Renaissance art.
  • Consider how the terms ‘Renaissance.’ ‘Medieval.’ ‘Northern European.’ and ‘Italian’ are applied to art and identify other possible approaches for categorizing such works.
  • Expand knowledge of European Renaissance art as a means to gain greater understanding of and appreciation for diverse visual practices.
  • Develop critical reading and thinking skills necessary to summarize information and arguments presented in class readings and discussions.
  • Refine skills necessary to be an active and engaged learner.

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

Lectures and readings will be available for download on Sakai. There is NO required textbook.


The powerpoints used in the course will be available for download on Sakai. Each student should download every powerpoint and be prepared to discuss the cultural framework and visual impact of every work of art listed in the powerpoint. The reviews before the exam will include a powerpoint of objects that will be included on the exams.


  • Analysis Papers: Two 3-4 page papers analyzing the cultural. political and religious context of the assigned work of art. You will be challenged to relate these conditions to [Type text] 5 the assigned reading that discusses or relates to the object in question. You will also be asked to make a coherent argument about the relationship between the image and the assigned reading.
  • 2nd Analysis paper: 3-4-page paper analyzing the cultural. political and religious context of a work of art discussed in the second half of the class. The paper will present the same types of challenges presented in paper #1. but now you will have the experience of that paper behind you. The assignment is designed to enable each student to demonstrate the progress they have made over the semester in the effective written communication of an argument. Students will also be able to show their increased ability to place a work of art in the historical. economic and political context of Renaissance Europe and to make a cogent argument.


Students are expected to attend all classes; if you anticipate missing one or two classes. please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me and repeated absences will seriously affect your final grade. All assigned readings are required and should be completed before class to enable your full participation. 


  • Midterm Exam: 15 % 
  • Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and paper on a work of art you saw there 20% 
  • Class Participation in Discussion: 15 % 
  • 2nd paper 25 %
  • Final exam: 25 %


Fall, 2021 - Sarah Blake McHam

Spring, 2021 - Sarah Blake McHam SYLLABUS

Disclaimer:  These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer tot eh course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.