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FA 0351 Baroque Art (Fall 2011) Writing Enhanced

FA 0351 Baroque Art (WE)
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
248 Biddle Hall
T-TH 3:30-4:50 p.m.
Fall 2011
Dr. Valerie S. Grash, Associate Professor of Fine Arts
Office: 230B Biddle Hall
Phone: 269-7164                          
Office Hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, 12:30-2:00 p.m., and by appointment.



Not only did the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation bring about a strong Catholic Counter-Reformation, but also new economic and societal conditions under which art thrived in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. In this course, we will closely examine how this environment affected the creation, type, subject matter and meaning of this art, through readings, classroom discussion and visual/contextual analysis. Questions we will consider include:

  1. What were the major cultural centers where art and learning flourished during this period?
  2. What societal conditions existed that affected the production and content of art?
  3. Who were the major artists and how did they create their works?
  4. Who were the major art patrons and what were their motives for commissioning art?

We will approach this task by focusing on historical events; examining pertinent literary and religious sources; and thoroughly examining the individual work of significant artists. Of particular interest are Italy, Spain and the Netherlands (Catholic Flanders and the Protestant Dutch Republic), although we will also spend time discussing England and France. At the conclusion of the course, you should:

  1. Possess a strong understanding of how "Baroque style" manifested itself in each country studied.
  2. Recognize the styles and major works of Baroque masters such as Bernini, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer.
  3. Have detailed knowledge of specific artists and subject matter, acquired through independent research.

Required textbook

Ann Sutherland Harris, Seventeenth Century Art and Architecture, 2nd edition (Prentice Hall, 2008) ISBN-13: 9780136033721

Course Web Site:

Additional textual and visual materials for this course (including monuments and terms covered in lecture); original documents and required readings; your grades; and pertinent announcements concerning class meetings and examinations are found at:

Please note: this is a Writing Enhanced course, which means a significant amount of writing is involved. This is not meant to overwhelm you, but instead aid in your development as a thoughtful thinker and writer of ideas. For many reasons, this course is NOT recommended for freshmen or anyone who has not yet completed Composition 2.

Course Policies

Please carefully read the following-they are policies that I steadfastly maintain in this course.

Faculty Statement:

My role is to facilitate learning through lecture and clarification of specific points through questioning and discussion, whether in the classroom, during office hours or via electronic correspondence. It is your esponsibility to attend class, take accurate notes and approach me with any questions and issues for clarification in a timely manner.


While there is no attendance policy for this course, be forewarned that what you will be tested on is discussed thoroughly in class. Even with the textbook, nothing replaces viewing the images projected on screen. Therefore, regular attendance is necessary to succeed in this course. In addition, as classroom discussion is expected, poor attendance will adversely affect you if it comes down to a borderline decision on your final grade.

Notes and Note Taking:

Under no circumstances do I provide notes for missed classes. It is your responsibility, if you miss a class, to acquire the lecture notes from a classmate. Class assignments and announcements are also available on the course website. You may tape-record lectures as long as you do not disturb others in the class.

Cell Phones:

Be certain your cell phone ringer is turned OFF, as it is both annoying and disruptive to the entire class. Anyone sending or receiving text messages will be asked to leave-this course deserves your full attention. If you can't do that, drop the class immediately.

Makeup Exams:

I give make-up exams only in cases with legitimate, documented reasons (death in the family, personal hospitalization, required fieldtrips, etc.). In such cases, inform me in advance and provide written confirmation of your absence. Do not assume every absence is excused or warrants special consideration. The alternative make-up exam must be taken within one week of the scheduled test; only one makeup exam per student will be permitted. No one can make-up the final exam, which must be taken at the scheduled time.

Late Assignments:

No extensions are granted for class assignments. Due dates are clearly noted on the syllabus at the beginning of the semester. You should start each assignment in a timely manner and even complete assignments early. Illness or any other excuse has no bearing on the fact that your work was not turned in on time. Any assignment not turned in by the due date will not be graded, thus earning 0 points for the work. No exceptions are permitted so do not ask!

Academic Integrity:

Please read carefully the Academic Integrity Guidelines in your student handbook. They will be followed to the letter in this course. There is ZERO tolerance for cheating or plagiarism. Any time that you use another person's words or thoughts as your own without giving them proper credit is plagiarism, including copying and pasting from the Internet. Any instance of cheating or plagiarism will result in an automatic "F" (0 points) for that assignment, and steps will be taken, according to the Academic Integrity Guidelines, to receive an "F" for the course and for action leading to expulsion from the university. I will not permit re-writing any suspected plagiarized assignment.


Students with disabilities who may be requesting academic accommodations for this course should notify the course instructor and the Office of Disability Services, as early as possible in the term.  The Director of Disability Services will verify the disability and determine reasonable accommodations for the course.  To schedule an appointment or to learn more about these services at UPJ, please call extension 7109 or visit the Academic Support Center in G -16 Owen Library. 

Grading and Course Requirements

Overall, you can earn 500 points during the semester. On this scale:

500-490 (A+)                      489-465 (A)                         464-450 (A-)

449-440 (B+)                      439-415 (B)                         414-400 (B-)

399-390 (C+)                      389-365 (C)                         364-350 (C-)

349-300 (D)                        299 and below (F)


Your grade will be determined in the following manner:

Examinations (360 points):

There will be three exams during the semester (October 4, November 8, and December 12), each worth 120 points. The format will be multiple choice and essay questions drawn from class notes and readings. The final will NOT be comprehensive, but will cover only the material since the previous exam.

Term Paper (140 points total):

The term paper will actually be a compilation of individual writing assignments that utilize three distinct types of art historical approaches-formal analysis, iconographical study and contextual (biographical and sociological) analysis. Thus, the final paper will contain essays analyzing the aesthetic qualities, content, and meaning of a single Baroque painting-selected by the student in consultation with the instructor-as well as an exploration of the work within the artist's life and within the larger societal framework of the period in which it was created.

Each essay will vary in length, from 2-5 typewritten, double-spaced 12-point font pages; however, the three essays together should result in a finished paper that is 10-12 pages-MINIMUM. Please note: final papers that do not meet this criteria will be severely docked in terms of points awarded, or flat-out refused.

To facilitate this task, the first part of the paper-a formal analysis essay (30 points)-must be submitted on October 27. The second part, consisting of an essay identifying and interpreting of the work's symbols and content-otherwise known as iconography (30 points), must be submitted on November 17. Both the first and second essays will be returned to you with comments, and should be revised for final submission along with the third essay-which contextually places the work both into the artist's oeuvre (life's work) and into Baroque society specifically-due on December 6. This final paper (which is actually all three essays put together) is worth 80 points.

Remember, each essay must be properly annotated with research sources, and include a comprehensive bibliography of articles and books consulted. Internet sources are not acceptable for very legitimate reasons. Further directions and requirements will be posted on the CourseWeb site under "Assignments."

Notice Regarding Course Changes:

I reserve the right to modify the timing, order and content of the course schedule. It is your responsibility to attend class and be aware of any changes. Check the course website regarding any class cancellations should they become necessary due to adverse weather conditions or other situations.


Course Schedule

August 30           Course Introduction

September 1        Michelangelo's Last Judgment and Council of Trent: Mannerism and Its Critics

September 6        The Carracci and the Reform of Painting (Harris, pp. 7-33, 56-77, 113-120)

September 8        Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Harris, pp. 85-93; 98-113)

September 13      Italian Baroque Architecture (Harris, pp. 4-6; 78-84; 137-134)

September 15      Caravaggio and the Caravaggisti (Harris, pp. 33-53; 270-279; 327-331)

September 20      Women Artists in 16th and 17th Century Italy

September 22      Peter Paul Rubens (Harris, pp. 143-163, 165-174)

September 27      Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens (Harris, pp. 174-190)

September 29      Flemish Still-Life and Genre Painters (Harris, pp. 190-197)

October 4             Exam I

October 6             El Greco and Painting in Spain (Harris, pp. 199-200, 207-224, 240-247)

October 11           No Class (Monday Classes Meet)

October 13           Diego Velázquez (Harris, pp. 224-240)

October 18           The Iconography of Monarchy: The Sun King and Versailles (Harris, pp. 251-263)

October 20           The French Art Academy (Harris, pp. 264-270; 279-284; 315-321)

October 25           Nicholas Poussin and Claude Lorrain (Harris, pp. 301-315) 

October 27           French and German Rococo-Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard   * Formal Analysis due

November 1         The Grand Tour and Its Impact on English Art and Architecture (Harris, pp. 408-415)

November 3         William Hogarth's Satire and the Emergence of English Painting (Harris, pp. 401-408)

November 8         Exam II

November 10      Holland: Calvinism, Iconoclasm and the Art Market (Harris, pp. 323-325)

November 15      Frans Hals, Judith Leyster and Dutch Portraits (Harris, pp. 331-339; 370-373)

November 17      Still Life Painters in Holland (Harris, pp. 368-373)   * Iconographical Essay due

November 22      No Class-Thanksgiving Recess

November 24      No Class-Thanksgiving Recess

November 29      Genre Painters (Harris, pp. 373-379; 388-391)

December 1         A Distinctive Landscape: Dutch Landscape Painting (Harris, pp. 391-399)

December 6         Rembrandt (Harris, pp. 346-368)     * Final Term Paper due

December 8         Jan Vermeer and Scientific Observation in Dutch Art (Harris, pp. 379-388)

Final Exam: Monday, December 12, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Last Reviewed: August 28, 2005