This is an open book assignment that is meant to demonstrate not only your knowledge of the Italian Renaissance visual culture we’ve covered thus far, but also your ability to synthesize visual and contextual information, and to present your ideas clearly in writing.

This means that you may consult your textbook, your notes, lectures, and other materials provided through the course. Everything you need to answer these questions will be available in the provided course materials. It is not advisable to consult outside sources (either traditional or electronic), since this essay is meant as an opportunity for you to show off your mastery of the materials we’ve covered in class through readings, lectures, and discussions.

In order to earn an A, your answers must directly and completely address your chosen question as asked. A-level work will develop a main thesis and use relevant comparative examples as well as descriptive visual analysis and interpretive information related to historical context and iconography to support this thesis. Grading of these essays will take into account your demonstrated command of the material (knowledge of specific works of art and architecture acquired through assigned readings and lectures; use of appropriate terminology acquired through readings, lectures; general knowledge relating to the cultural background in which these works of art and architecture were produced). The technical quality (organization, grammar, spelling, etc.) of the writing will also be taken in to account, although mechanics will not constitute a large percentage of the grade. For more insight on my grading, please see the Rubric available in the Midterm Essay assignment page.

Midterm Essay Options (Choose ONE):

Option 1:
Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Peace and Jacobello del Fiore’s Enthroned Justice flanked by Saint Michael the Archangel and the Archangel Gabriel embodied expectations of good government for the cities of Siena and Venice. Consider how the meanings of these works’ imagery and their style relate to their places of origin, as well as how the techniques used to create each painting and the buildings that they inhabit are representative of Venetian or Sienese contexts.

Finally, choose a third artwork or architectural project that represents the ways that viewers in the Italian Renaissance understood just rule and civic identity. Let the same questions that shape your consideration of Lorenzetti’s and del Fiore’s works guide your analysis of the work that you choose, and use this third image to support and expand your main thesis.

Option 2:
While the Sienese painter, Simone Martini’s style is often easily recognizable, he deployed different stylistic and compositional strategies in The Altarpiece of St. Louis of Toulouse and The Annunciation. Address the ways that each of these paintings represents Martini’s particular style. Then, consider how the patrons or cities for which the panels were made shaped the imagery that appears in them by examining how the works relate to the spaces for which they were made and the social, political, and civic contexts that they inhabited.

Introduce at least one other comparative artwork from each place (this can be a work in any medium by any artist) to support your discussion of the ways that Martini’s panel paintings responded to the desires of patrons and the special identity of each city.

Option 3:
Florentine public sculpture not only served as a means of visual communication through which the city and its citizens declared their identity, it was also a place where artists could show off innovations and engaged in dialog with those who had come before. Craft an essay that focuses on how Lorenzo Ghiberti’s North Baptistery Doors and Donatello’s St. George experimented with new ways to visualize human bodies, communicate narratives, and respond to the needs and desires of patrons.

Introduce at least two comparative examples to support your analysis; these examples can either expand your discussion the new styles deployed by Ghiberti and Donatello or can serve as contrasting examples of earlier styles of representation from the Italian Renaissance. Your visual and contextual analysis of each artwork you discuss should situate it within its specific context by addressing its scale and the architectural space for which it was created.