Design student work, video

You are here

ART H 366 A: Northern Renaissance Art

We look forward to safely returning to in-person instruction and activities this autumn quarter. Current and prospective students please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages.
Meeting Time: 
MWF 8:30am - 9:50am
ART 003

Syllabus Description:


M-W-F 8:30-9:50am
Art Building, Room 003

Instructor: Steven Bunn (
Office Hours: Mondays and Fridays, 9:50am-10:50am; location: Parnassus (if space is available), or Art 318.

| Home | Class Schedule and ReadingsLecture Slides | Flashcards | Exams | Looking-Writing Assignments | Final Paper | Links |

Course Description

This class surveys the painting and graphic arts in northern Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Artists of the Low Countries and German-speaking regions will be emphasized, including Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dürer, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We will study individual styles, trends in iconography, the impact of naturalism and realism as visual approaches, patronage, and the social, religious, political, and personal influences that impacted the arts of the period. Several issues relating to recent art historical scholarship will be addressed as ongoing themes of the class, such as artistic self-fashioning though pictorial innovation and self-portraiture, sensual engagements of objects by their beholders, involvement and implication as topics of spectatorship, and the rise of new genres in art.


  • Jeffrey Chipps Smith. The Northern Renaissance. 2004.
  • Craig Harbison. The Art of the Northern Renaissance. 2012. [also published as The Mirror of the Artist: Northern Renaissance Art in its Historical Context. 1995].
    • Additional readings will be posted online.

Learning Goals

  • A well-rounded understanding of the artistic culture of northern Europe and its relationship to Italian Renaissance art, as well as broader themes of art history, will be explored through richly-illustrated class lectures.
  • In-class discussion will help develop the language of talking about art, including methods of looking, interpreting, and discovering the visual language used by early modern artists and their audience.
  • Assigned readings will introduce general themes relevant to the course material, provide period sources and documents, as well as introduce issues and questions being addressed in recent scholarship.
  • Written assignments will encourage attentive reading of the visual components of artworks and the application of themes learned in class.


  • 20% - Five Looking-Writing Assignments [late assignments will not be accepted]
  • 30% - First Exam (Monday, May 2, 2016)
  • 30% - Second Exam (Friday, June 3, 2016)
  • 15% - approximately 4–5 page paper (about 1200 words) — expansion and revision of one Looking-Writing Assignment, situating the artwork more fully into the themes of the course.
  • 5% - Participation and Engagement: in-class contribution and attention

Policies and Evaluation

  • Attendance in class lectures and keeping up with all assigned readings is expected for success in this class. If you miss a class for any reason, it is your responsibility to contact fellow classmates for notes. Please make every effort to be on time, as arriving late can be disruptive. 
  • Make-up assignments will not be given without legitimate documentation of severe illness, family emergency, etc.
  • Extensions for the paper and its related assignments will be granted only under similar circumstances. Vacations do not qualify as acceptable reasons for make-up work.
  • Late papers without a verifiable excuse will lose 0.5 points per day (for example, a paper due Friday that would receive a 4.0 will receive a 2.5 if turned in on Monday). If you miss a scheduled due date, it is your responsibility to be in touch with the instructor as soon as you are able in order to schedule a make-up.
  • Grade Appeals: coursework and exams will be returned promptly. If you have any questions about a grade, please discuss the situation with the instructor within a week of receiving it.
  • Last-minute questions: I can't promise timely response in the last 24-hours before an exam or an assignment due date. In other words, plan ahead and don't procrastinate until the last minute with an important question!

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as using in your own work the creations, ideas, words, inventions, or work of someone else without formally acknowledging them through the use of quotation marks, footnotes, bibliography, or other reference. Please check with your instructor if you have questions about what constitutes plagiarism.

Instances of plagiarism will be referred to the Vice Provost/Special Asst to the President for Student Relations and may lead to disciplinary action.

Department Policies

School of Art + Art History + Design Policies

Catalog Description: 
An overview of Netherlandish, French, and German art in the context of cultural developments circa 1400-1570.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
December 31, 2016 - 9:30pm