City and Country in the Italian Renaissance





Italian city life was flourishing by the middle of the 15th century. The economic success of the merchants and the governments they sponsored was expressed in the design and decoration of palaces and piazzas. As urban elite culture developed, the countryside surrounding the cities was transformed from the site of food supply to a locus of leisure. Palace decoration, both inside and out, responded to urban development and the rising self-consciousness of Renaissance people. Country houses, often owned by the same families, reflected an awareness of space and perspective that was analogous to changes in the city. This course examines the rise of the towns and the visual and literary forms that accompanied this development as the backdrop to the major intellectual and social themes of the Renaissance. The focus is on monuments in Siena and Florence, with examples from Rome and the Veneto. Parallels are drawn between the decorative schemes of city palaces and their counterparts in the countryside, which took the form of villas with attached gardens. 3 credits.