Eternal Rome: Art History and Architecture across the Centuries: A Seven-Part Course with Cecilia Martini

Eternal Rome: Art History and Architecture across the Centuries: A Seven-Part Course with Cecilia Martini


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“Let us suppose that Rome is not a place where people live, but a psychical entity with a similarly long and rich past, an entity in which nothing of what has been is lost…a place in which all the layers coexist at the same time.” Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents

Rome is known as the Eternal City. But why is that so? Despite thousands of years of history and the constant visible reminders of the ancient Empire, Rome has a unique continuity in time. In this seven-part course, we will follow Rome’s ongoing transformation: from the fall of the Empire to its rebirth as the capital of Christendom, to the dramatic changes of the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance and the glory of the late Baroque. We’ll use art and architecture to explore the stories of saints and scandalous popes, of artists, aristocrats, and art patronage. While the protagonists of Rome’s history are long gone, there are plenty of fortresses, palaces, and beautiful fresco-adorned-churches that still stand tall and have an array of stories to teach us.

During this seven-part course, led by Cecilia Martini, an art historian and native Roman, we will discover its history through the lens of art history and architecture. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of Rome as a unique example of historical continuity.

Lecture 1: The beginning of the end? Or a new beginning?

From the dramatic sack of 410 to Charlemagne, the slow transformation of the capital of the Roman Empire into the capital of Christendom started with the fantastic recycling of Rome. This lecture examines how the cityscape of Rome changed with the adoption of a new faith. Ancient buildings were adapted, new buildings were built above or within ancient ones and “temples,” and a new art overwhelmed the pagan world.

Lecture 2: The dark age of Rome

From the coronation of Charlemagne to the sack of the Normands, the aristocracy of Rome fought to control the papacy, fortresses, and castles spread across the impoverished city. We’ll use this background to explore the regular appearance of splendid new churches, decorated with sparkling mosaics. These structures were an oasis: secluded lands of wonders and “gardens of paradise”.

Lecture 3: The rebirth of 12th and 13th centuries and the return of life to art

After centuries in which the efforts of artists were focused on depicting a world without substance, there appeared a re-emergence of life and emotions. The Renaissance was coming. We’ll talk about new religious orders, popes, and artists such as Giotto, Cavallini, and Torriti who enriched Rome with new buildings and revolutionary masterpieces.

Lecture 4: Humanism, humanist popes and the artist’s discovery of antiquity

After a great schism, the papacy entered a new era. Cultured humanist popes accompanied the effort of scholars in the rediscovery of ancient pagan philosophy and literature. This lecture will introduce the “antiquarii,” the first archeologists, who began to dig everywhere in Rome. We’ll learn about fragments of the past, the intersection with Florence, and individuals such as Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Masolino, and Beato Angelico.

Lecture 5: The Pope is Rome and Rome is the Church: the golden age of Renaissance

At the beginning of the 16th century, there was a unique blend of great popes, patrons, and genial artists who generated an incredible number of masterpieces in all fields. This lecture focuses on some of these masterpieces. From the Sistine Chapel to St Peter’s, from the rooms of Raphael to the Palazzo Farnese, Rome starts to regain the splendor of ancient times.

Lecture 6: The 17th century: the Counter-Reformation, art and the baroque

Rome was the capital of the Catholic world, the land from where the Church’s propaganda emanates, and the place where all artists wanted to be. This seminar will examine the dramatic and ambiguous canvases of Caravaggio to the glorious fountains and squares designed by Bernini to Borromini’s surprising architecture. Why was Rome such a magnet?

Lecture 7: The splendor of the 18th century and the effects of the French Revolution

Our final lecture will finish with a discussion of the prince’s palaces, the private art collections, and the spectacular views that make Rome the queen of the Grand Tour. We’ll also touch on the effects of the French Revolution and the impact this had on art and architecture in the Eternal City.

Cecilia is an art historian and a native Roman with a Master's degree in Medieval and Renaissance art from the Sapienza University of Rome. Although her specialty is painting and decorative arts, she has a broad knowledge of the history of Rome and a personal passion for ancient history, which she shares on many antiquity-themed itineraries. Cecilia has worked actively in the past as a lecturer, teacher, and curator of exhibitions. She had been a staff member of the didactive service of the Vatican Museums, the Galleria Doria Pamphili and the Galleria Colonna where she still frequently consults. As a licensed guide for Rome and Florence and with a specialized teaching degree, she has more than 20 years of experience in leading highly-qualified tours.

How does it work?

This is a seven-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on Roman art history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $245 for seven lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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Eternal Rome
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Excellent start to Roman Art History & Architecture

Customer Reviews

Based on 2 reviews
100%
(2)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
S.
Eternal Rome
C
C.M.
Excellent start to Roman Art History & Architecture