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Art in Baroque Rome


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Dr Robert Maniura
  • Assessment: a 3000-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module, we look at new approaches to Baroque art in Rome, considering various types of evidence for the production and reception of:

  • painting
  • sculpture
  • architecture.

We think about both modern art historical definitions of the period and seventeenth-century writings on art, looking at a range of sources such as theoretical texts and biographies of artists.

We assess the significance of the religious context, examining chapels, altarpieces and large-scale papal projects, as well as looking at private galleries, decorated with frescoes, tapestries and oil paintings. We also consider the economic context to the production of artworks, including patronage and business practices, and think about artistic practices in studios and workshops.

A discussion of selected artists’ lives focuses on Caravaggio, Guido Reni and Artemisia Gentileschi, while other significant artists covered include G.L. Bernini, Pietro da Cortona, Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine. Several important recent texts are discussed alongside older publications, and Susan Dixon’s anthology Italian Baroque Art is a set text.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction: historiography of the term ‘Baroque’, the papal city, patronage, collecting and the art market
  • Caravaggio and Artemisia
  • The Carracci School and ‘Baroque classicism’
  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Scipione Borghese
  • Outfitting the new St Peters
  • Palazzo Barberini: Andrea Sacchi vs Pietro da Cortona
  • Landscapes and portraiture
  • Baroque architecture and urban scenography: Bernini, Borromini and Cortona
  • Bernini chapels
  • High Baroque ceiling painting