Artists, Craftsmen, and the Pursuit of Nature in Renaissance Europe

This class will explore the manifold responses to the natural world by Renaissance artists and craftsmen during a period when the medieval, theologically-bound universe was giving way in the face of momentous new discoveries—of new worlds, peoples, animals and plant forms—and the traditional Ptolemaic worldview was challenged by the new heliocentric cosmos of Copernicus. The course will examine the ways artists and craftsmen documented nature’s physical qualities, charted its extent, explored its structures, and expressed its qualities and meanings in poetic and allegorical form. Themes will include the emergence of landscape and pastoral, villa culture, garden and grotto design, the aesthetics of mimesis and naturalism, the early collecting of naturalia, cartography and mapping, and the role of the artist / draughtsman in the emerging natural sciences. The course will include visits to museums and collections and will require a research paper. 3 credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement.