Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance

Course No. 7140
Professor William Kloss, M.A.
Independent Art Historian
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Course No. 7140
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Course Overview

No era of artistic achievement is as renowned as the Renaissance, and no country holds a higher place in that period than Italy. The supreme works created in Florence, Rome, Venice, and other Italian cities by such masters as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian have never equaled and have established a canon of beauty that pervades Western culture to this day.

"These Arts, in their highest province, are not addressed to the gross senses, but to the desires of the mind, to that spark of divinity which we have within."
—Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1786

To view these works is to enter a world that is incomparably rich, filled with emotion and drama that is palpable, though sometimes mysterious to our modern sensibility.

To study these works with an expert is to penetrate that mystery and gain a new appreciation for how these masterpieces were created and what they meant to the artists and people of the time.

Experience the Vision of Great Art with an Expert Guide

Professor William Kloss is your guide through this visual feast in an artist-centered survey that explores hundreds of paintings and sculptures by scores of artists.

An independent art historian, scholar, and curator, Professor Kloss is a frequent lecturer for the Smithsonian Institution's seminar and travel program. He has served on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House by presidential appointment since 1990, and he is the author of several books and exhibition catalogs.

Commenting on Kloss's eloquent writing, The Washington Post marveled that "his pointed and persuasive perceptions are not easily resisted."

Unlock the Mysteries of Renaissance Art

Take Botticelli's Primavera, a bewitching allegory of springtime featuring two gods, three goddesses, the three Graces, and Cupid, set in a lush orange grove. Its sheer beauty transfixes visitors to Florence's Uffizi Gallery, where it hangs today. But what does it mean?

Noting that for centuries scholars have debated the painting's symbolism, Professor Kloss directs your attention to a few intriguing details:

  • The orange tree foliage makes a halo around the central figure of Venus, connecting her with the Virgin Mary. According to Renaissance thought, Venus may also represent humanitas—culture or civilization.
  • On the right, flowers float from the mouth of the nymph Cloris, and her finger is merging with a flower in the gown of Flora, goddess of spring. One is metamorphosing into the other as spring arrives in this ideal glade of divine love.
  • Meanwhile on the left, Mercury is waving his staff to dispel a tiny patch of clouds. He is clearing the atmosphere—the intellect—for the three Graces who represent culture and the arts.
Professor Kloss then points out another equally rich interpretation and concludes, "A bad artist could do terrible things with such a complex story, but fortunately a great artist was at hand to visualize this elaborate subject."

The same can be said for all of the artists in this course, and it is through their distinctive styles, innovations, and matchless skill that you learn about this remarkable period.

What Is the Renaissance?

These lectures cover art history at the times of the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance, which extended from about 1400 to about 1520. Italy is the first and principal location of the Renaissance, and it was in Florence that it took its deepest root.

The word renaissance means rebirth, and it is the name given to the transition from medieval to modern times in Europe, when the rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman culture sparked a creative revolution in the humanities, the sciences, and the arts.

Humanism, a philosophical, literary, and artistic ideal, went hand in hand with this rebirth. It emphasized the dignity and potential of humanity and inspired secular studies, as well as the creation of art that reflected the forms and ideas of the Classical era. Renaissance society—and art—was permeated with religion.

In the arts, this new approach encompassed powerful new techniques for representing the human figure and the visible world, and also new attitudes about the roles of artists in society. From a modest rank as craftsman, the artist gradually rose to a status comparable to poets and philosophers.

Examine Works by More Than 40 Great Artists

The first 25 lectures examine the artists of Central Italy, where Florence is located, then the focus shifts to Northern Italy. You cover the works of more than 40 artists, among them:

  • Filippo Brunelleschi and Donatello: One an architect, the other a sculptor, they were the principal founders of the Renaissance style. Florence cannot be properly understood without looking at Brunelleschi's buildings, notably his dome for the Florence Cathedral. The influence of Donatello's sculpture was unequalled before Michelangelo.
  • Masaccio: The greatest painter of the Early Renaissance is studied in two lectures; he is compared to Giotto, the great "proto-Renaissance" master of a century earlier.
  • Piero della Francesca: Now considered one of the greatest Renaissance painters, he was primarily associated with smaller urban centers such as Urbino and Arezzo, where he created the fresco cycle The Legend of the True Cross.
  • Botticelli: Two lectures are devoted to this master whose wistful grace gave way to anguished expression as the religious climate in Florence took a fanatical turn under the reformer Savonarola.
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael: For many, this triumvirate is synonymous with the High Renaissance. Their influence and fame have scarcely waned from their day to our own. Seven lectures are devoted to their work.
  • Andrea Mantegna: Master painter in Padua and Mantua, his art has a sculptural quality combined with rich color and a spirit of pathos. He was also an innovator in spatial illusionism in painting.
  • Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini: This pair excelled in rendering contemporary Venice in vivid narrative cycles. They are included in an eight-lecture sequence on Venice, the proud center of culture in northern, Adriatic Italy.
  • Antonello da Messina and Giovanni Bellini: Both working in Venice, they achieved such brilliant effects with the new oil medium that they inspired many other artists to adopt it. Giovanni Bellini was the younger brother of Gentile.
  • Giorgione and Titian: From Giovanni Bellini's workshop came two artists who helped define the Venetian High Renaissance. Giorgione altered the development of Western art, and Titian blended the achievements of Giorgione, central Italian painting, and his own coloristic genius into a style of stirring beauty.

Some of the Art You See

The visual content of this course puts it in a class with heavily illustrated art books. Some 500 images of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, maps, buildings, and architectural details are featured. Many works are explored in considerable depth, with searching commentary by Professor Kloss that is both enlightening and personal. For example:

  • Church of San Lorenzo, by Brunelleschi: "Brunelleschi's architecture reflects the scale of the human being. I have a greater sense of calm and comfort and well-being in that church than any other Italian church until we get to the work of Palladio well over 100 years later. It's an extraordinary experience."
  • St. George, by Donatello: "The widespread legs of the figure and the central axis of the shield lead us up to the head, the vigilant, intelligent head, a thinking head. We take it far too much for granted, but Donatello has been able to give the power of thought to the head of George."
  • Ginevra de' Benci, by Leonardo da Vinci: "The strangely unemotional character of the face, the dreamy eyes, don't really connect with ours. This seems to be more of a projection of Leonardo's own secretive personality than a record of the sitter's. I think that it is generally true of portrait artists that they project themselves to a large degree onto their sitters."
  • The Sistine Chapel Ceiling, by Michelangelo: "Do I think that the Sistine Ceiling was the victim of a poor or careless restoration? No, I do not; emphatically, I do not. These are the colors that we should have expected to see. These are in fact the colors of much later 16th-century Italian painting. We always knew that Michelangelo invented the poses of the human body that were used by everyone for the rest of the century. Now we know that he may have invented the colors as well."
  • Baldassare Castiglione, by Raphael: "Look in his eyes. Look at the wonderful blue-green of his eyes against the flesh tones and against the grayish background. The color scheme of the whole thing is a flawless consonance of gray, black, flesh tones, of perfectly defined volumes, persuasive description, and in every sense it's the true likeness of the man. It is what we call a speaking likeness."
  • The Tempest, by Giorgione: "This is one of the most puzzling paintings in art history. My preferred explanation: The soldier and the broken columns symbolize fortitude or constancy. The woman and child stand for Christian love. The threatening storm over the town and the country is a symbol of fortune or chance. What is distinctly uncommon here is the subordination of the emblematic devices to the evocative landscape. This is the first instance of Italian painting in which a landscape is given the principal role, not just a supporting role, but the principal role."
You discuss many other major masterpieces in detail, from Giotto's frescoes for the Arena Chapel and Ghiberti's bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery to Leonardo's The Last Supper and Michelangelo's Last Judgment.

Terms and Techniques

Professor Kloss offers other insights as well. Did you know that it is incorrect to refer to Leonardo as "da Vinci," which is not his last name but the indication of his town of birth? Or that the Renaissance was put on hold for half a century due to the Black Death? Or that Renaissance marble sculpture was sometimes painted?

You also learn how to recognize saints from the symbols that accompany them: St. Paul by his sword, St. Peter by his keys, and St. Jerome by the stone in his hand with which he strikes himself in penance for his sins.

Of great use in your further studies are the terms and techniques that Professor Kloss explains:

  • In Italian, the 14th century is called the Trecento. The literal meaning is 300, but it is shorthand for the 1300s. Likewise, the 15th century is called the Quattrocento and the 16th the Cinquecento. These Italian terms are commonly used in art historical writing and speaking about Italian art.
  • Fresco means fresh in Italian. The technique involves painting on a shallow layer of freshly troweled wet plaster (the intonaco) with water-based pigments, which penetrate into the plaster. Rapid execution is required before the plaster sets overnight, allowing one working day. The area that can be covered is thus called a giornata (day, or day's work).
  • In linear or one-point perspective, the vanishing point corresponds to the spectator's viewpoint, and that is why the pictorial space can be felt as an extension of the viewer's real space. Leon Battista Alberti, the architect who first published a formulation of these principles in 1435, likened the picture surface to a window.
  • Drying oils such as linseed oil and walnut oil form a solid film when exposed to the air for long enough time. Because they dry slowly, they can be applied evenly over a wide surface. The color, bound in the oil, has a richness and a luminosity that comes from the translucency of the medium.
  • Uffizi, the name of the famous museum in Florence, in English means simply offices—the original function of the museum building.

The Renaissance: 120 Years That Transformed Art

In the final two lectures, Professor Kloss looks at the Renaissance as a whole and surveys the political, social, and religious events of the early 16th century that brought profound change to Italy and the rest of Europe. He then examines how art inevitably changed as a result.

Altogether, the Renaissance lasted about 120 years, and the period of the High Renaissance a little over 40 years. No later Western art can be discussed without reference to this era—especially as it matured and flourished in the cities of Italy.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Italy and the Renaissance
    This lecture examines the features of late medieval culture in Italy that paved the way for the Renaissance. In painting, Giotto di Bondone evolved a proto-Renaissance style in contrast to the prevailing late-Gothic style. x
  • 2
    From Gothic to Renaissance
    Around 1400, a European-wide style known as International Gothic flourished in Italy. Artists including Lorenzo Monaco and Gentile da Fabriano retained this style. Others, such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, developed a new style that we call Renaissance. x
  • 3
    Brunelleschi and Ghiberti in Florence
    Architecture is central to understanding the birth of the Renaissance, and it was in Florence that the first great buildings of the Renaissance were constructed. This lecture looks at the buildings of Filippo Brunelleschi and the famous bronze doors of Lorenzo Ghiberti. x
  • 4
    Donatello and Luca della Robbia
    The most influential visual artist in Italy in the 15th century was Donatello. This lecture traces his work until he moved to Padua in 1443. Also covered is Luca della Robbia, whose superb choir gallery for the Florence Cathedral is in direct competition with Donatello's choir gallery for the same church. x
  • 5
    The first of two lectures on Masaccio examines his Pisa Altarpiece. Also studied is his monumental fresco The Trinity, with attention to his introduction of one-point perspective. x
  • 6
    Masaccio—The Brancacci Chapel
    This lecture looks at Masaccio's principal frescoes for the Brancacci Chapel, with special attention to their melding of style and narrative content. Masaccio undertook the project with Masolino. x
  • 7
    Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi
    Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi were the most important painters in Florence after the death of Masaccio. Fra Angelico was able to switch between a late medieval style and a more realistic Renaissance manner. Fra Filippo Lippi's paintings combine charm and inward quietness. x
  • 8
    Three Specialists
    This lecture looks at paintings by three contrasting artists in Florence. Paolo Uccello was devoted to foreshortening and perspective. Andrea del Castagno found ways to make figures look like painted sculptures. And Domenico Veneziano introduced a tonal delicacy and pastel palette from his native Venice. x
  • 9
    Donatello and Padua
    Continuing the career of Donatello, Professor Kloss covers Donatello's move to Padua to work on a bronze equestrian statue, Gattamelata. Among his other Paduan works is a wooden sculpture, Saint John the Baptist. On returning to Florence, he made the even more expressive Saint Mary Magdalen. x
  • 10
    Piero della Francesca—Individual Works
    The first of two lectures on Piero della Francesca explores works painted between about 1445 and 1470, including his Baptism of Christ and the famous Resurrection, and later paintings such as the Madonna and Child with Saints and the unfinished Nativity. x
  • 11
    Piero della Francesca—Legend of the True Cross
    This lecture covers Piero's great fresco cycle, The Legend of the True Cross, depicting the story of Jesus' cross from its origin in the tree of knowledge to its disappearance and rediscovery by Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. x
  • 12
    Pageant of Life in Renaissance Florence
    Benozzo Gozzoli and Domenico Ghirlandaio incorporated the civic life of Florence into their narrative paintings, while continuing the Renaissance exploration of pictorial space, both in landscape and in architectural settings. x
  • 13
    The Heroic Nude
    This lecture considers two artists of the male nude. Antonio del Pollaiuolo's figures are violently dramatic. Luca Signorelli used more static, contemplative poses, but he also created astonishingly physical nudes in Resurrection of the Dead and The Damned Consigned to Hell. x
  • 14
    Sculpture Small and Large
    This lecture looks at four important sculptors and their contrasting contributions to Renaissance art: Antonio Pisanello, Francesco di Giorgio, Antonio Rossellino, and Andrea del Verrocchio. x
  • 15
    Botticelli—Spirituality and Sensuality
    The first of two lectures on Sandro Botticelli pays particular attention to the Birth of Venus and Primavera (Spring). The latter is one of the most discussed paintings in Renaissance art. x
  • 16
    Botticelli and the Trouble in Italy
    In his later career, Botticelli produced works such as the disquieting Calumny of Apelles, possibly painted as a defense of the Puritanical preacher Savonarola, whose execution in 1498 initiated Botticelli's metaphysical phase culminating in the haunting Mystic Nativity. x
  • 17
    Filippino Lippi
    Filippino Lippi, son of Fra Filippo Lippi, completed the fresco cycle in the Brancacci Chapel left unfinished by Masaccio. Noted for his poetic softness and melancholy, his work took an expressionistic turn toward the end of his life. x
  • 18
    Leonardo da Vinci—Portraits and Altarpieces
    Two lectures are devoted to Leonardo da Vinci, who had already achieved a mature style by his early twenties when he painted Ginevra de' Benci. Also featured are his unfinished Adoration of the Magi, the haunting Madonna of the Rocks, Mona Lisa, and the beautiful Lady with an Ermine. x
  • 19
    Leonardo da Vinci—The Last Supper
    Professor Kloss sketches the history of Leonardo's The Last Supper, contrasting it with other representations of the subject. Despite its deteriorating state since Leonardo's lifetime, the painting has always overwhelmed viewers by its emotional power. x
  • 20
    Michelangelo—Florentine Works
    The first of three lectures on Michelangelo covers the early career of an artist called "divine" long before his own death. This lecture features his sculptures of Bacchus, the Pietá, David, the Bruges Madonna, and the only finished example of his early forays into painting, the Doni Tondo. x
  • 21
    Michelangelo—Roman Projects
    In the early 1500s, Michelangelo was engaged to paint a fresco of the Battle of Cascina in Florence. It was never completed, since he was summoned to Rome to design a massive papal tomb with sculptures that would become some of his greatest figures, including Moses and Dying Slave. x
  • 22
    Michelangelo—The Sistine Chapel Ceiling
    Professor Kloss discusses the symbolic and theological story in the ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, and the unparalleled inventiveness that Michelangelo brought to the task of designing and painting more than 5,700 square feet of ceiling surface in four years. x
  • 23
    Raphael—Madonnas and Portraits
    The first of two lectures on Raphael studies his different interpretations of the Madonna and Child theme, for which he is best known. He was also a superb portraitist, as evidenced by his Julius II, Baldassare Castiglione, and Bindo Altoviti. x
  • 24
    Raphael—History Paintings
    Raphael was a master of grand narrative painting of religious, mythological, and secular themes. His greatest works in this genre are the monumental frescoes for the official papal stanzae, or rooms. These include the Disputa, School of Athens, and Expulsion of Heliodorus. x
  • 25
    Urbino—Microcosm of Renaissance Civilization
    This lecture explores Urbino's palace-fortress, whose gem is the Studiolo, or small study, one of the most famous rooms of the Renaissance. Its beautiful cupboards are decorated with inlaid trompe l'oeil designs, some of which are illusionistic replicas of the books, instruments, and armor they once enclosed. x
  • 26
    Andrea Mantegna in Padua and Mantua
    The course moves to Northern Italy—to Padua and Mantua, where Andrea Mantegna was one of the most individualistic artists of the late 15th century. Among his works discussed are the frescoes in the Ovetari Chapel, the famous ceiling fresco of the Camera degli Sposi, and The Dead Christ. x
  • 27
    Venice—Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance
    The first of eight lectures on Venice surveys its setting and history. At the core of the city are the ducal palace and Basilica of San Marco, adorned with bronze horses and the enamel plaques for the Pala d'Oro, plunder from the sack of Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. x
  • 28
    Celebrating the Living City
    Vittore Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini were painters devoted to Venice's beauties and virtues, which they displayed in works such as Lion of San Marco by Carpaccio and Miracle of the Cross at Ponte San Lorenzo by Bellini. x
  • 29
    Giovanni Bellini—The Early Years
    The first of three lectures on Giovanni Bellini, brother of Gentile, studies his Madonnas and his moving images of the Pietá, or Lamentation. Bellini was Andrea Mantegna's brother-in-law, and their versions of The Agony in the Garden are compositionally similar but stylistically and expressively diverse. x
  • 30
    Antonello da Messina and Giovanni Bellini
    One of the major influences on Bellini was Antonello da Messina. This lecture traces that influence through works such as Antonello's San Cassiano Altarpiece and Crucifixion, and Bellini's San Giobbe Altarpiece, Transfiguration, and St. Francis in Ecstasy. x
  • 31
    Giovanni Bellini—The Late Years
    This lecture explores the serene style of Bellini in his later years, including Madonna and Child with the Magdalen and St. Catherine, the noble Doge Leonardo Loredan, the San Zaccaria Altarpiece, and the remarkable mythological painting The Feast of the Gods. x
  • 32
    Giorgione's masterful use of oils and softness of touch, together with his ambiguous subject matter, have made him one of the most admired artists of his age. He is best known for The Tempest, showing a soldier and a nude woman and child, flanking the opening into a lush, storm-menaced landscape. x
  • 33
    Giorgione or Titian?
    Titian probably completed the paintings left unfinished by Giorgione, who died of plague in 1510. This lecture explores the question of attribution by looking at several "problem pictures," including Sleeping Venus and Adoration of the Shepherds, which caused a famous quarrel in art dealing. x
  • 34
    Titian—The Early Years
    Titian's influence has reverberated through the history of art from Rubens to Delacroix to Renoir. This lecture looks at eight of his masterpieces, including the famous Sacred and Profane Love, which is as enigmatic as it is beautiful. x
  • 35
    A Culture in Crisis
    The first of two summary lectures compares works from the Early and High Renaissance to judge the stylistic shift that occurred during the period. This shift is mirrored by political turmoil culminating in the sack of Rome by the troops of Emperor Charles V in 1527. x
  • 36
    The Renaissance Reformed
    The Renaissance was succeeded by Mannerism, a style well illustrated by Parmigianino's distorted Madonna of the Long Neck. Some artists resisted the trend, notably Titian. Professor Kloss closes with a final look at three vastly different interpretations of The Last Supper: Castagno's version of 1447, Leonardo's of about 1498, and Tintoretto's startling vision of about 1594. x

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  • 248-page printed course guidebook
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  • 248-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested readings
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Your professor

William Kloss

About Your Professor

William Kloss, M.A.
Independent Art Historian
Professor William Kloss is an independent art historian and scholar who lectures and writes about a wide range of European and American art. He was educated at Oberlin College, where he earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Art History. He continued his postgraduate work on a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan and was then awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for two years of study in Rome. As Assistant Professor...
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Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 76.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Utter Delight - You'll love it Prof Kloss is warm and dignified, engaging and understated, and appropriately in awe of his subject. He is the very best lecturer of all 40-ish courses I have seen. You'll take to him right off the bat - he's got no idiosyncrasies to get used to. His love of his subject is apparent, and even a tad impish, which adds to his charm. I am a beginner, and the course is perfect for a beginner. Lots of visuals well done. Makes me which I had a large screen TV!. (Seasoned art historians may find that it covers ground they already know. But they might enjoy it re-presented to them in a new way.) I'm usually a bit stingy with my straight 5 star ratings for courses, but this one deserves it, no question. I'm glad I also have Prof Kloss's "Paintings" course to look forward to. I'll also buy anything he teaches.
Date published: 2011-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Bill Kloss is astounding I am buying everything that Prof Kloss teaches. This man is one of the best lecturers I have ever experienced. Where were you in high school and college!!?? THANK YOU!!
Date published: 2011-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance I combined this course with the Genius of Michelangelo in anticipation for a recent return trip to Italy. It greatly expanded my appreciation for the art and architecture of Florence, Siena, and Rome. Highly recommended!!
Date published: 2010-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT ROADMAP If one finds it challenging to get one's intellectual hands around all the nuances of Renaissance art, one can find no better guide than Professor Kloss. He not only brings to bear a vast knowledge of the of the subject as well as art in general, his infectious enthusiasm makes each lecture fascinating. The earlier excellent reviews have covered all the salient points of this lecture series.The purpose of this one is to emphasize how the lecturer's ability can make viewing these DVD's an exciting and stimulating experience. Equally important, Professor Kloss lays down some guideposts for further exploration of this particular era in art, and how it fits into a larger fabric of the world of art in general. This series is highly recommended to everyone.
Date published: 2010-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course! These were amazing lectures. William Kloss is a very comfortable professor to listen to. He has good body language--does not throw his arms around or move unnecessarily-which is a distraction with some of the other lecturers we have watched. His voice is pleasant, and his articulation perfect. Those mannerisms set the stage for the through knowledge he has about Italian Art. This course was very helpful. Thanks to Mr. Kloss for his enthusiasm and education.
Date published: 2010-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Lecturer I viewed this course twice before visiting Florence and Siena. I found it to be invaluable. William Kloss is also a very engaging speaker; I found myself thoroughly absorbed by the lectures. By his own admission, at the beginning of the lecture series, he says that he "never managed to get out of Florence" in 36 lectures. I think the course should be extended by another 12 lecturers, and include a course on Sienese art.
Date published: 2010-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful course I had some exposure to Renaissance art when I spent a month in Italy. I knew I had a basic comprehension of the Renaissance then and hoped, eventually, to return to Itlay someday to expoand my knowledge. Alas, a marriage a child and a career intervened and 15 years have elapsed since I visted Florence, the Vatican and Venice and my hoped for return just simply hasn't happened. I purchased Kloss' class after injuring myself at work and rediscovered all that I had missed. My sojourn in Italy in 1995 was only a teaser, it seems. Kloss showed me how little about the Renaissance I knew and how much of it I missed in 1995. This was the second DVD course I purchased through the Learning Company, and my 16th class. For the most they have all been excellent. Kloss' class is right up there with my favorites. It is a beautiful, beautiful introduction to the Renaissance and a reminder of how wonderful a class with a great instructor can be. At first I didn't know if I would like Kloss. He seemed a bit drier than other lecturers in the Teaching Company's stable, but as the course progressed I really began to appreciate his calm, tasteful approach to the art he loves. At the end of the course I was thoroughly won over by his style. He does not make impossible claims for the art. His judgement about works are sound and well thought out. When he describes the nuances of a work, he does so in a way that is systematic and clear. The course was well thought out, well research, supported on the strentgh of the works themselves and simply beautiful. The pictures of the art work are beautiful, probably better than what you'd see in real life in Italy. It would be an invaluable introduction for anyone travelling to Italy. I recommend this course highly. Now I am viewing the DVD on Michelangelo and find it is also a wonderful and entertaining DVD. I am finally getting some value out of my televsion.
Date published: 2010-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Intellctual Stimulating Experience This is my second time to both view a Teaching Company Art Course, and first time to view one of Professor Kloss' presentations. I have one word: WOW. From the beginning of the first lecture to the end of the course, The material, presentation, and direction of the course are supurb!! I have been a music teacher in the past, and due to the modern economy, am attempting to re-certify as a social studies teacher in my state. The factual information that the professor presents on the Renaissance era has been invaluable to me in my test preparation. As the presentations are made, Mr. Kloss makes it clear that all disciplines of learning are inter-connected, and it is impossible to study art of any era outside of its historical context. There is so much that I learned in this course. Not only did I learn cognitive information, but also more abstract info as well. I certainly have a different perspective know when viewing art, regardless of what medium, or era is involved. I can hardly wait to obtain his other productions!!
Date published: 2010-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'll be re-viewing this one many times Extraordinary. Insightful, articulate, erudite. I watched this course while simultaneously consulting the recognized authoriatative taxt on Italian renaissance art and Prof Kloss' handling of the topic was much more instructive. Partly it is because the DVD medium lends itself so well: the camera can zoom in on a detail or Prof Kloss can use an arrow pointer to emphasize some issue. But among the dimensions that Prof Kloss emphasizes and that is not evident in the text and which is not just an artifact of the advantages of DVD over printed text, is the immediate comparisons side by side to illustrate how the art eveolved or where one artist borrowed from another or how a tradition was handed down. Having just finished this course two days ago, I will almost immediately begin watching it again from the beginning. I also plan to consult it over and over again for our return trips to Italy. Perhaps the most valuable lesson imparted to me was how ignorant we were on all our past trips to Italy and how much I have a profound need, now, to revisit the same cities and locations that we have previously visited. I can't wait to book my next flight to Italy!
Date published: 2010-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wouldn't go to Italy without him! We're both art lovers, but not art scholars, so art tours in Italy can sometimes seem overwhelming. With William Kloss as a guide we've gotten so much more out of our visits than we'd have managed on our own. We've watched this course before and after visits to Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome -- wouldn't think of making a trip without watching again.
Date published: 2009-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My First Course This was my first course (DVD) that I bought in preparation for a week long study trip to Florence, Sienna and Pisa in January 2009. I was most pleased with what I learned in the course and it really helped me when I toured some of the artwork in Florence. Historian Kloss gave really good insights into the arts and history of the Italian Renaissance. The lectures included many fine pictures of art and the buildings in the Italian city-states during this period. He had a good balance of enthusiasm and commentary. Good detailed explanations of each painting enhanced my knowledge. The workbooks were also useful; one was a summary of all lectures and key points, then 3 additional books that were close transcriptions of the lectures making both sets great supplemental materials. I am now reviewing for my next purchase.
Date published: 2009-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Elegant Achievement This is a very successful course that is sure to please lovers of fine art. The images are many, and of very high quality. Professor Kloss lectures with passion for his subject -- the greatist artists of the Renaissance and their finest works of painting, sculpture, and architecture. The professor offers many valuable insights in the limited teaching time available for each of the artists. Lectures include historic background, biographic sketches of the artists, and of course the great works of art themselves. I recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the Italian Renaissance!
Date published: 2009-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful course This was my first course with the Teaching Company; I still go back and listen to specific lectures. This was a great course. So many of the works and artists that Mr. Kloss discussed have become almost clique, but he was able to present them in interesting and enlightening ways. You can only understand the art of a period if you understand the history and culture of that period, and Mr. Kloss included enough information to guide our understanding and appreciation. Further, his suggested supplementary readings enriched his lectures and were well worth the investment. I'd had the opportunity to see much of the art and architecture he discussed on many previous trips to Italy, however, I had a much deeper appreciation and understanding for Italian Ren. art after taking this lecture series. On a subsequent trip to Italy, I was able to thoroughly enjoy what I was viewing. I now keep a log of works he discussed so I'll never miss seeing something in our continued travels. Mr. Kloss is not stuffy, nor does he throw around a lot of "art terminology" that would hinder those of us new to the subject. He does, however, make his lecture material thorough and advanced enough to be challenging to all levels. My daughter, who minored in art history, found his lectures equally enjoyable, even as she was familiar with much of the material. A great course for anyone going to Italy, interested in the Renaissance or just looking for a pleasurable tour of beautiful things.
Date published: 2009-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course William Kloss gives us a great gift here. This course is simply amazing. I highly recommend it!
Date published: 2009-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Kloss is outstanding This course should come with a warning: if you get one Kloss course you will want to get them all. I am quite familiar with Renaissance art not from studying it in college but from innumerable trips to museums. I was skeptical how much I would learn. This is a course that I think would appeal to everyone from a tyro who never looked at a Renaissance painting to someone quite knoweldgeable. Be sure to combine it with Kloss's Dutch artists series
Date published: 2009-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice introduction to period This is an introduction to Italian Renaissance art. Some will be distressed by the amount of works skipped by some major artists, but I would hate to lose some of the wide survey with a deeper dive into the major artists. The emphasis is on painting (with a little bit of sculpture) and the progression from the Medieval styles to the new awakening and rediscovery of ancient approaches. There is much more on the early Renaissance relative to the later, High Renaissance (and most of that is based in and around Florance, the center of the new style). After a relatively brief foray to Rome and the Vatican (relative to what most people are already familiar), Kloss then moves on to Venice for another extended set of lectures. At the end of the course, there is much comparison between early and late Renaissance pieces that we have studied earlier in the course. Then he shows some examples of artists breaking out into new territory. This is not intended to be an introduction to Mannerism, but rather its early differences from Renaissance art (and some of why). I enjoyed Kloss's approach. He enjoys the subject. I find his sense of humor is just right, but if you are easily annoyed, you may find his half-smile/smirk occurs too often.
Date published: 2009-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where are the works of Michelangelo? Some years ago, I was asked this question by an American lady on a coach trip to Siena. We were on our way back to Florence and she was pointing at a spot on a map of the city marked, "Piazzale Michelangelo". If you don't know Florence, you might well assume this was the site of a collection of the master's works (it is actually where the tourist coaches park for a view over the city). She was rather crestfallen to learn that - with the notable exception of 'David' - all his most famous works were in Rome. If only she had seen Prof. Kloss's great course before visiting Italy ... even if you've been to Italy before (which I have, many times) and think you know something about art, there are so many wonderful works of art covered (some of which, I confess, I missed on previous visits to the Uffizi, the Vatican and the Accademia - but after 1 1/2 hours or so looking at pictures one tends to suffer from sensory overload) and so much valuable art-historical and iconographic information in these lectures that anyone who is an amateur scholar of art history will derive much pleasure and intellectual profit from these lectures. Someone with a casual interest in art, who is planning a trip to Italy will learn so much more than is to be found in the standard tourist guide books. I also hugely enjoyed Prof. Kloss's style - slightly old-fogey academic, but with a dry wit. A Marvellous course. Considerably superior, in my view, to the professor's later 48 lecture course on European Art (which I reviewed previously) as he has more time to look longer at the pictures - for example, one half lecture each is devoted each on Leonardo's 'Last Supper" and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling - and, we are treated to two lectures on the sublime Piero della Francesca. Deserves 6 stars. Buy it immediately, watch it, then buy plane tickets to Italy!
Date published: 2009-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In The Footsteps of William Kloss I bought this course when it was first released in 2004 and have watched it several times since. My best friend also invested in this course and in October of 2004, we took a trip to Rome (with day excursions to Florence and Naples). We visited as many places and viewed as many works of art discussed by Bill Kloss as time would allow. I will look back to this trip and learning experience with great fondness for the rest of my life. I have since recommended this course to numerous people and some of them have subsequently taken a trip to Italy and followed in the footsteps of William Kloss as well. My advice to anyone considering making the modest investment in this course is simple: Buy It Now! I consider it one of the finest courses produced by The Teaching Company.
Date published: 2009-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Teaching Company course This is my sixth Teaching Company course. I rate it as the best so far. Professor Kloss gives a first rate introduction to Italian Renaissance Art. The lecture content is well laid out and the images are excellent. My college is sponsoring a trip to Florence, Italy in April. This course has been an excellent introduction. I am also using the BBC web site to learn Italian. Overall-highly recommended!
Date published: 2009-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BELOVED CLASSICAL COMPOSERS I've loved classical music all my life and know a little bit about the primary composers. These short studies on these famous composers made me realize I knew NOTHING about them! Greenberg is a hoot--he peppers his lectures with humorous asides and lots of dish, but first and foremost he presents these composers as real people who just happen to be geniuses. You'll hear excerpts from major works but you will also hear important works you may not have pursued on your own. Prof. Greenberg chooses his excerpts well and the only complaint one could have is that the musical interludes are too short! I made the mistake of buying one or two of these at a time. I should have bought them all at once. If you love stories about how compositions came about and what was going on in a composer's life when he created it--bingo--this course is for you.
Date published: 2009-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prepared me for the Uffizi Viewing this course prior to going to Italy, and most notably, the Uffizi, enabled me to enjoy the spectacular array of Renaissance masterpieces with a level of familiarity and enjoyment that I would not otherwise have had. I recommend it for anyone wishing to learn about Renaissance art, how it progressed and who were the major contributors to this amazing period of creativity.
Date published: 2009-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must if You're Going to Italy My wife and I planned to spend 10 days in Florence back in 2006 and we watched this video course on Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance. We had no idea until we were in Florence how much this course helped our appreciation of Italian art! Prof. Kloss is a first-rate teacher and the way he helps build your understanding and appreciation of Renaissance art is truly great. Things we would never have seen or appreciated came alive for us in Florence because of this course. My wife and I now plan on spending a month in Italy, including Venice and Rome. We are going back to this course again to take a deeper step into the art of the great Italian artists.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great art made simple This course was taught at a very basic level by someone with enthusiasm but I found it lacking in intellectual excitement. It felt like something offered to fill a required humanities survey course requirement and not like an intellectually-challenging encounter with some of the greatest artists in the history of art. Professor Kloss seems to be a generalist, but a course of this nature seems to call for someone who has written in the field and has a specialist's knowledge and perspective. I found it disheartening that someone could offer a lecture on Mannerism without even mentioning John Shearman's classic study of Mannerism or talking about Vasari's discussions of "modern" style.
Date published: 2008-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Artists of the Italian Renaissnace is a tour de force: geography, history, theology, gorgeous art & architecture. Kloss is marvelous.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The stills & photos of the art were beautiful. Prof. Kloss's comentary was excellent, concise, beautifally executed & at times humorous. The lectures presented along with ouline were excellent!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have listened to many art commentators. Professor Kloss is by far the best.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I do hope to see more lectures by professor William Kloss. He's a born teacher - wanting you to take as much pleasure as he does from his chosen field.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved Professor Kloss'spresentation. He is respectful and reverant without being maudaline. Wonderful course. I'd buy anything else by him.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from eloquent, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable- Prof Kloss makes the great European artists come alive. Studying art history with him is a pure delight.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor William Kloss is outstanding. Both his knowledge & presentation are superb & he allows enough time to apprciate the slides.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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