The Art & Architecture of the Tuscan Republics

Course summary

  • Tue 03 Oct 2017 to Tue 05 Dec 2017
  • 7:00-9:00pm 10 meetings
  • Room 114, Building 22, London Road Campus, University of Reading, RG1 5AQ
  • From £173.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code R17P218ARW
  • +44 (0)1865 280892
  • Course ended

The Art & Architecture of the Tuscan Republics


Vasari stated that 'Tuscans have devoted to all the branches of art more labour and study than all the other peoples of Italy', and today, whilst we may smile at his bias, we also acknowledge the richness  and variety of the region's artistic heritage. 

In this wide ranging course we shall study that heritage, not only in the major centres of Pisa, and Lucca, and of course, Florence, but also the smaller cities which have long cherished their own individual artistic and architectural identities, such Prato, Pistoia, and Arezzo. 

In the course of our travels we shall meet the great patrons who gave so generously to the beautifying of their cities, and the artists, Michelozzo and Rossellino, Della Francesca and Della Robbia, Donatello and Della Quercia, who so often worked in 'foreign' and difficult conditions to fulfil their dreams.      

Programme details

Term Starts:   3rd October

Week 1:          Introduction to the course: the artistic heritage of Tuscany: Volterra and Etruscans

Week 2:          The Maritime Republic of Pisa.

Week 3:          The Republic of Lucca

Week 4:          The development in sculpture: Donatello, and Jacopo della Quercia.

Week 5:          The art of terracotta: Della Robbia.

Week 6:          The art of perspective: Masaccio and Uccello

Week 7:          The communes of Prato, Pistoia and the North-East. 

Week 8:          Arezzo and the genius of Piero della Francesca.

Week 9:          The Medici as patrons of art

Week 10:        Popes and patrons: Pienza


Background Reading:

Keates, J. Tuscany

Meller and Der Haegan, Art and Architecture in Tuscany

Belozerskaya, M The Arts of Tuscany

Partridge, L. The Arts of Renaissance Florence

Ed. Norman, D. Art and society in Siena, Florence, and Padua Vols. I and II

Hollingsworth, M Patronage in Renaissance Italy 1400 to the early 16C.

If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.

If you have enrolled on a course starting in the autumn, you can become a borrowing member of the Rewley House library from 1st September. If you are enrolled on a course starting in other terms, you can become a borrowing member once the previous term has ended.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.


Course Fee: £173.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00


Dr Diana Matthews

Diana has been studying the arts of Italy for over 20 years and her doctoral thesis was on the architecture of Renaissance Rome.

Course aims

The course aims to achieve a deeper appreciation of the rich artistic heritage of the cities of Tuscany in the 15C through a study of its leading patrons, sculptors, painters and architects.


Course Objectives:

By the end of the course students should be able to:

1.  appreciate the role played by the city states, large and small, in the patronage of art and architecture in Tuscany.

2.  evaluate the career and significance of the major artists, sculptors and architects working in Tuscany in the early Renaissance.

3.  understand the difficult political conditions in which patrons and artists worked in  14C and 15C Tuscany.    

Teaching methods

Informal illustrated lectures will be combined with class discussion and some group exercises.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1.  recognize the major works of art in painting, sculpture and architecture in the leading cities of early Renaissance Tuscany.

2.  evaluate the patronage of the city state and of individuals.

3.  analyze the major developments in art and architecture in Tuscany in the early Renaissance.

Assessment methods

Students will be encouraged to complete an assignment as part of this course, which will be  a written piece on a major topic such as a patron, or artist to be agreed with the tutor in Week 5.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)