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Last modified: 25 Mar 2016 11:35

Course Overview

The course is devoted to the revolutionary paintings of Italian artist Caravaggio (1571-1610), and the immense impact which he had on subsequent art. Beginning with a detailed look at the work of Caravaggio himself, we proceed to examine his influence on Italian, Dutch, French and Spanish artists during the first half of the seventeenth century (e.g. from Italy – Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi; from the Netherlands – Honthorst and ter Brugghen; from France – Valentin and La Tour; from Spain -Ribera). Issues addressed include the nature of Caravaggesque “realism”, the uses of “chiaroscuro”, and the idiosyncracies of Caravaggesque iconography. For further information please see the course guide.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Mr John Gash

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The first half of the course is devoted primarily to the work of Caravaggio himself. It locates the roots of his art in the predominantly naturalistic traditions of Lombardy and Venice, but also stresses the aesthetic gulf that separates Caravaggio from his supposed artistic sources.
Central issues to be addressed in the seminars include the current debate about whether Caravaggio was a dutiful exponent or covert critic of Counter Reformation ideology; the extent to which he constructed his pictures without preparatory drawings by painting directly from posed models (an allegedly novel procedure); the nature and function of his famed 'chiaroscuro'; and the ways in which his 'realism' differed from the more 'classical' naturalism of his main rival, Annibale Carracci.
The second half of the course deals with Caravaggio's so-called 'followers'.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed


Contact Teaching Time

38 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


Student performance in this course is assessed by 2 essays, a written examination, visual-based test, and class contribution.
1st Attempt: 1 two-hour written examination (30%); 1 one-hour visual-based test (20%); two 2,000-word essays (40%); class contribution based on seminar presentations and discussion in seminars (10%).
Resit: Examination (100%). NB: All coursework must have been submitted.

Formative Assessment



Feedback occurs at various stages of the course and at different levels. The two essays are returned with detailed comments both on the cover sheet and the body of the essay itself. Students are then given the opportunity to discuss their essay with the lecturer.
The lecturer's comments on student presentations in class are also designed to help students improve their skills.
Students are encouraged to discuss their chosen essay topics in advance with the course convener.

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