Guido da Siena. Nativity, 1270s. Tempera on wood, 36 x 48 cm. Musee du Louvre, Paris.

Seminars, Schools and Summer Series

Early Italian Art (1250-1400) – Introduction and Overview

  • Tuesday 14 May 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 1

Italian Art 1250–1400: Introduction and Overview

The day aims to introduce early Italian art and to place it in its historical and cultural context. Despite the enduring fame of a few ‘big names’ of the period, the works of the Italian artists of the late Middle Ages were ignored and largely forgotten in subsequent centuries. Many were lost or destroyed. The modern appreciation of the Italian ‘Primitives’, as they were once called, began with the rediscovery of their paintings in the nineteenth century, and with changes of taste that no longer judged them solely by standards derived from the canonical art of a later period, that of Raphael and Michelangelo.


  1. The Rediscovery of the Italian Primitives
  2. Italy in the Late Middle Ages: a crucible for artistic innovation
  3. Making art: forms, styles, techniques, materials, artists
  4. Images in the urban space: small towns in Tuscany

Future days (booking will open at the beginning of May):

  • Assisi and the illusion of reality                                   11th July 2019
  • Siena: the city of the Virgin                                           tbc  July 2019
  • Florence, Giotto and the roots of the Renaissance   7th  August 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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