Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Short Renaissance art history courses in Florence in September 2011

The British Institute of Florence has brought to my attention two interesting short courses in Renaissance art history, one a hands on workshop, the other a thematic course inspired by the forthcoming exhibit at Palazzo Strozzi. The following comes straight from the director of art history, Susan Madocks.

This autumn the BIF is launching a range of short courses of 4 or 5 days on specific themes. As with all our art history course offerings, these are open to all ages and backgrounds, from the interested traveller to the seasoned art buff, local resident, or gap-year student.

First up in September (5th-9th) we have Experiencing the Renaissance Workshop. Through a mix of site visits, lectures and, above all, studio-based hands-on sessions, you can get to grips with the nitty-gritty of an apprentice’s training, learning the main drawing techniques (silver-point, pen and ink, chalk), as well as egg tempera painting with gold leafing, and fresco painting. The great thing is that no previous artistic training is necessary, and actual talent is an optional ! Dr Alan Pascuzzi, art historian and professional artist, has you copy for each technique a Renaissance image, and you get to take your masterpiece home with you. One of the sessions looks at the history of forgeries from antiquity to the Renaissance, and the hands-on class has you putting into practice forgery techniques in drawing and painting. The BIF, naturally, declines any responsibility for what you might do with these skills !

The Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi has gained a reputation for some stunning exhibitions in recent years. The must-see show this autumn – Money and Beauty – Bankers, Botticelli, and the Bonfire of the Vanities – examines the birth of the modern banking system and the relationship between art, power and money in Renaissance Florence. We have created a 4-day course, over a long weekend, which connects with the main themes of this cross-disciplinary exhibition which is already creating such a buzz that we will be running the course twice. Exploring Money and Beauty (29th September-2nd October, and 28th- 31st October ) through tours and lectures will concentrate on the great Florentine banking families and their tastes, collecting and cultural sponsorship. The visit to the exhibition will include an informal talk by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi Director General, James Bradburne.

For almost 100 years The British Institute of Florence (affectionately known as “the BIF”) is noted above all for its stunning library of some 50,000 volumes housed in the Palazzo Lanfredini overlooking the Arno, its archive of 19th and 20th century Anglo-Italian resident literati, its eclectic cultural programme of lectures and concerts open to all comers on Wednesday evenings, and for its language centre for the teaching of Italian and English. It is perhaps less well-known for its art history department, although this was recently given some airing because it was here that the Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Kate Middleton) attended the classic trio of art history courses spanning the Middle Ages to the High Renaissance. The professors are of high caliber and the BIF provides adults with an opportunity to go “back to school”.

Prices: Experiencing the Renaissance Workshop: € 470,00; Exploring Money and Beauty: € 425,00
For further information on these courses, and if you wish to enrol please contact
For more information on our art history offerings and language courses please see

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.