Victoria University Continuing Education

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Renaissance Rivalry: Art patronage in Rome, Siena and Florence


From the rivalry between and within the republics of Siena and Florence to papal rivalry amongst the ruling families of the Italian peninsula, this course investigates the art that was commissioned during, and how it helped define, the Renaissance period.

Recommended reading:
No pre-course activity is required, but if you wish to do background reading, the following books are useful:

  • Paoletti, John T and Gary M Radke (2011) Art in Renaissance Italy (4th edition), London: Laurence King.
  • Vasari, G (1987) Lives of the Artists, Volumes I and II, a selection translated by George Bull, London: Penguin Group.

Target audience:
If you are interested in art history generally, thinking of travelling to Italy, or even joining the Victoria Continuing Education Renaissance Rivalry study tour to central Italy in late September–early October 2017, this course provides contextual insights into the art of the Renaissance.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have:

  • gained an appreciation of the art and architecture of the Renaissance
  • evaluated the agendas of different art patrons
  • developed your ability to analyse art within its context
  • investigated different approaches to art history.

Course outline:
Each session includes two illustrated lecture presentations with time for questions and discussion. The following topics are covered:

Session 1:

  • Rival republics: Siena
  • Rival republics: Florence

Session 2:

  • Republican Florence
  • The Medici

Session 3:

  • Papal Rome: Michelangelo and the Popes
  • Papal Rome: Raphael and the Popes

Session 4:

  • Female art patronage in the Renaissance
  • Giorgio Vasari’s view of the Renaissance

A short break is held halfway through each session, and you are welcome to bring refreshments if you wish.

Phyllis Mossman is a lecturer at Victoria University teaching the Renaissance art history. She is on the Adam Art Gallery Advisory Board and Victoria University Art Collection Funding Trust. In 2014, she led the Victoria Continuing Education Popes and Powerbrokers study tour to Italy. Phyllis also works as an independent art consultant for both private and corporate clients.

Relevant links:
Study Tours
School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies
Adam Art Gallery

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.