Giotto. The birth of the virgin, 1304-06. Fresco, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua.

Seminars, Schools and Summer Series

Early Italian Art 1250–1400: Florence, Giotto and the roots of the Renaissance

  • Wednesday 7 August 2019
  • Sarah Fell Room, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
  • Lecturer: Dr John Renner

During the summer of 2019 we are offering a series of linked but separate study days on Early Italian Art from 1250 to 1400. Each day can be booked individually. We also intend to include some small group visits to the V&A and the National Gallery. These will be organised separately and subject to demand.

This series will examine the revolutionary developments in Italian art from around 1250 to the end of the fourteenth century. It will explore how the cities of central Italy, at that time among the richest and most dynamic in all Europe, provided the nurturing environment in which the arts could flourish.


Programme for Day 5

Italian Art 1250–1400:  Florence, Giotto and the roots of the Renaissance

The thriving Florentine economy fuelled a healthy demand for works of art. Large public projects  were supplemented by a proliferation of frescoed chapels in all the major churches, paid for by the rich merchant families. In the later thirteenth century the leading Florentine artist was Cimabue, painting in the same  Byzantine  idiom as Duccio, his Sienese contemporary. But by the turn of the fourteenth century the fame of Cimabue was decisively eclipsed by that of Giotto who is forever associated with a revolutionary new style of painting that would change the course of Italian art. Much of the day will be devoted to Giotto, including an examination of what is universally acknowledged as his surviving masterpiece, the Arena Chapel in Padua. Giotto’s legacy was a complex one, and many different types of painting flourished in the second half of the fourteenth century and moved towards the period we know as the early Renaissance.


  1. Florence in the thirteenth-century: the cradle of Giotto.
  2. A Florentine abroad: Giotto’s Arena Chapel in Padua.
  3. Giotto and his followers in Florence.
  4. Florence after the Black Death: towards the Renaissance.

Final Day

  • Fresco Cycles (Clare Ford Wille) – 6th Sept 2019


Dr John Renner is a specialist in late-medieval Italian art, with a PhD from The Courtauld. He lectures at The Courtauld, the V&A and elsewhere, while researching and publishing on the art of the mendicant orders. He has given two previous courses for the London Art History Society.

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