MO3026 Art and Piety in Western Europe, 1400-1700
Lecturer Dr Bridget Heal
Credits 30
Availability Semester 2, 2018-19
Class Hour view timetable

What can visual evidence tell us about religious belief? This course will begin by exploring the use of religious images during the late-medieval period. In the sixteenth century Protestant reformers questioned the value of religious art, and in parts of Europe there was extensive iconoclasm. The course will consider the motives of the iconoclasts and the forms that their actions took. We will also look at Catholic attempts to reform religious art and at the flowering of visual piety in the wake of the Council of Trent. Seminar classes and student assignments will make extensive use of pictures as well as texts.

Basic Reading Burke, P., Eyewitnessing: the uses of images as historical evidence (2001)
Scribner, R. W., For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation, 2nd ed. (1994)
Haskell, F., Patrons and Painters: A Study in the relations between Italian art and society in the age of the Baroque (1963)

Course Structure

  1. Introduction
  2. The cult of images in the late medieval period 1
  3. The cult of images in the late medieval period 2
  4. Lutheran images
  5. Iconoclasm 1: Germany and Switzerland
  6. Iconoclasm 2: France and the Netherlands
  7. Protestant visual culture after iconoclasm
  8. Rome: Renaissance and reform
  9. Baroque Italy
  10. Spain, the Netherlands and Germany in the Baroque
  11. Overview
Assessment 60% examination - 3-hour paper
40% coursework

Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of the importance of images in Catholic devotional practice
  • An understanding of the significance of iconoclasm in the implementation of the Protestant Reformation
  • Increased skill in using visual sources to explore historical question
Restrictions None
Resource Lists