Spring 2012

Sixteenth-and-Seventeenth Century Northern European Painting

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-254


Craig Harbison (Section 01)


The course will begin with a brief introduction to important themes in Northern Renaissance art that have direct bearing on later 16th-and 17th-century developments. Relevant historical issues for the entire course will include the effects of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; changing attitudes toward sexuality, and toward the lower classes or peasants; social and economic movements in the Dutch Republic; and the open market for art and the consequent development of artistic specialties--landscape, portrait and still-life. Studying the works of Pieter Bruegel, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Pieter Saenredam, Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, students will examine the attractions and pitfalls of the contextual analysis of works of art. The course will also address the role of present day viewers’ subjective responses when evaluating historical evidence and whether unexamined objectivity is possible or even desirable. We will also consider whether there is continued value in the notion of a period style or of an artist’s single-minded or consistent stylistic development. Specialized readings will shed light on all of these topics.  Looking closely at original works of art from this period will be a crucial component of the course with special emphasis on refining our visual acuity. Two class meetings per week.

One previous course in art history or in European history strongly recommend. Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Harbison.

If Overenrolled: priority to seniors, juniors, then art majors in order to achieve a range of students across the disciplines


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012