Renaissance Painting Course

Renaissance Painting Course will allow you to catch a glimpse of a Renaissance artist’s workshop from “behind the curtains”, learn about materials and methods used in that period and implement some of these methods in your work.

We are going to learn a wide range of painting and drawing techniques used in Italy and throughout Europe during the Renaissance, covering all the stages of production of a finished artwork: making of a preparatory drawing, preparation of the support, making an underdrawing, gilding, preparation of colors and tools, methodology of paint application, etc.

On successful completion of the Renaissance Painting Course, students will be able to develop their own artworks (drawings and paintings) with methods and techniques similar to those of the famous Florentine painters such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio, Giotto and others.

Renaissance Painting Course - Illustration: Madonna and Child with Saints Giovanni Bellini14591516
Madonna and Child with Saints (detail), Giovanni Bellini 1459-1516, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The course is designed for both artists and art historians. It will help artists acquire working knowledge of materials, tools and techniques that has demonstrated outstanding results in terms of quality, durability and beauty. Art historians will better understand the creation process of a painting in a Renaissance workshop, will be able to better identify and distinguish working methods and materials used by artists of Italian Tre- and Quattrocento.

We will dive deep into the Renaissance painting, aiming for a direct first-hand experience. Giorgio Vasari, a great architect and painter, the first art historian and the author of the term Renaissance itself, as well as other artists of 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries that we will encounter in this course desired to share and transcend their knowledge to future generations:

[…] I have discussed the beginnings of sculpture and painting, […] because I was moved by the welfare and common advantage of our own artists. Once they have seen how art reached the summit of perfection after such humble beginnings, and how it had fallen into complete ruin from such a noble height (and consequently how the nature of this art resembles that of the others, which, like human bodies, are born, grow up, become old, and die), they will now be able to recognize more easily the progress of art’s rebirth and the state of perfection to which it has again ascended in our own times. And I hope, moreover, that if ever (which God forbid) it should happen at any time […] that art falls again into the same chaos of ruin; that these my labors […] may be able to keep it alive or at least to encourage the most exalted minds to provide it with better assistance; so much so that, what with my good will and the works of these masters, the art may abound in those aids and adornments wherein, if I may freely speak the truth, it has been wanting up to the present day.

Giorgio Vasari, 1511-1574, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550, 1568), see The lives of the artists, a reduced edition of the book, or a full translation: Lives of the most eminent painters, sculptors & architects

Where possible, we will rely on these authentic texts, letting the “voices” of Renaissance artists guide us at every step of the creative process, cutting through cliché, myths and misconceptions.

Florence, a city rich with artistic and cultural testimonials of the Renaissance, will help us better understand the artworks, their context and function. Museum visits will let us inspect some of the most extraordinary masterpieces, learn about working methods used by painters and then try reproducing them in our studio.

Theoretical part (about 15% of class hours) will be combined with hands-on practice (about 85% of class hours). This will allow students not only to deeply understand some of the key methods used by Renaissance artists, but also to apply them in their artistic projects.

Main Topics:

Renaissance Painting Course Website

The purpose of this website is to offer you an interactive and user-friendly platform to explore the cultural and historical background of Renaissance painting workshop practices. Here, you can access information about the diverse materials and methods employed by Renaissance artists, including insights from period’s treaties, images of Master works, relevant bibliography, and useful links.

Please note that the website is continually evolving, and while some topics may receive more coverage than others, rest assured that you will have access to comprehensive information, along with practical demonstrations, instructions, and further advice in our studio.

When you have read this again and again and entrusted it to your tenacious memory, you will repay your instructor for his pains if every time you have made good use of my work, you pray for me that I may receive the mercy of almighty God who knows that I have written what is here systematically set forth neither out of love for human praise nor from desire for temporal reward, and that through envious jealousy I have neither stolen anything precious or rare nor silently reserved anything for myself alone, but rather that I have given aid to many men in their need and have had concern for their advancement to the increase of the honor and glory of His name.

Theophilus, Presbyter, De Diversis Artibus, Theophili, qui et Rugerus, presbyteri et monachi, libri III, Diversarum artium schedula, XII century, | Herzog-August Bibliothek