Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

Women in Renaissance Art – 1 week art history course in Florence

The British Institute of Florence is offering a one week seminar on Women in Renaissance Art from March 5-9, 2012 and March 4-8, 2013 led by Prof. Susan Madocks Lister (so if you miss it this year, you can plan for next year!).

Designed for a general audience and with no exams or papers to worry about, the course consists of a series of thematic talks by local experts that provide a good introduction to important aspects of this topic. I will be giving one of these talks.

Some of the themes included are:

  • From religious to secularized image
  • The Foundling Hospital and its museum
  • Emblems of  virtue, power and beauty: The female profile portrait in the Quattrocento
  • Midwife manuals: early printed images of the fetus in the womb (that’s me)
  • Women as patrons of art
  • Sexuality and the erotic in Renaissance art
  • Visits to the Uffizi, Bargello, Palazzo Vecchio, Galleria Palatina, Museo degli Argenti and the Costume Museum

My talk on midwife manuals stems from research that I presented at RSA in Venice in 2010, which gives me the opportunity to revise this for a more general public and also think about where I might publish it some time. It’s rather too long and complex for this blog, I’m afraid. Prints and books are often excluded from art history courses and may not be considered “art” in the same way as we consider a portrait painting. Yet this printed material had a large influence on the way that people perceived many things, and in this case these popular printed texts tell us something about midwifes, doctors, and womens’ bodies. For your viewing joy here is a page from one of these books.

Rueff 1554, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, all rights reserved

The course costs 450 euros and you can enroll online.

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By: arttrav

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