A History of European Art
Professor William Kloss is an independent art historian and scholar who lectures and writes about a wide range of European and American art. He was educated at Oberlin College, where he earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Art History. He continued his postgraduate work on a teaching fellowship at the University of Michigan and was then awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for two years of study in Rome. As Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia, he taught 17th- and 18th-century European art and 19th-century French art. Professor Kloss has enjoyed a long association with the Smithsonian Institution, presenting more than 150 courses in the United States and abroad on subjects ranging from ancient Greek art to Impressionism to the works of Winslow Homer. He has also been a featured lecturer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and for The Art Institute of Chicago. Professor Kloss serves on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, a presidential appointment he has held since 1990. He is the author of several books, including Art in the White House: A Nation's Pride (2nd edition), which won the 2009 National Indie Excellence Award in the Art Category, as well as a 2009 USABookNews award for Best Book in Art. Most recently, he coauthored the United States Senate Catalogue of Fine Art. He also has written articles published in Winterthur Portfolio, The Magazine Antiques, American Arts Quarterly, and Antiques & Fine Art.
01: Approaches to European Art
Professor Kloss introduces the course and outlines its content. His goal is to encourage viewers to develop habits that will enhance their enjoyment of art. To appreciate a work of art, one must look at it patiently, considering qualities such as subject, interpretation, style, context, and emotion.
02: Carolingian and Ottonian Art
Beginning with the year A.D. 800, you study illuminated manuscripts produced by Irish monks. Then you compare an example of early Byzantine church architecture with Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel. The lecture closes with two masterpieces of narrative art, including the famous Bayeux Tapestry.
03: Romanesque Sculpture and Architecture
This lecture explores examples of the Romanesque style such as the churches of St. Etienne and St. Trophîme. You also examine various sculptures found in churches across France, and you close with a look at the role of the pilgrimage roads in the establishment of Romanesque-style churches throughout France.
04: Gothic Art in France
After examining the evolution of the Gothic style, you look at such examples as Notre-Dame de Paris, Chartres Cathedral, Rouen Cathedral, and Saint-Maclou.
05: Gothic Art in Germany and Italy
Continuing the study of Gothic art forms and styles, you look at a famous sculpture on the Strasbourg Cathedral, then move to Italy to examine relief carvings in Pisa, and compare three paintings by Cimabue, Duccio, and Giotto of the Madonna enthroned with the Christ Child.
06: Giotto and the Arena Chapel-Part I
Giotto's frescos for the Arena Chapel in Padua are one of the supreme achievements of Western European art. After discussing the history of the chapel and highlighting the methods of fresco, the lecture focuses on several scenes that depict the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ.
07: Giotto and the Arena Chapel-Part II
You return to the Arena Chapel to study scenes from the life of Christ, noting Giotto's powerful renditions of Christian themes. Before Giotto, most artists were anonymous craftsmen. With Giotto, a new phenomenon arose: From this point on, the history of art is also the history of great artists.
08: Duccio and the Maesta
In this lecture, you focus on Duccio's unquestioned masterpiece, the Maestà, which means "majesty," viewing its different parts including the altar and scenes from the pinnacles and predella. You also see how Duccio and his contemporary, Giotto, compare in terms of reputation and technique....
09: Sienese Art in the 14th Century
You explore the historical influence of the Italian city-state. Then you learn about some of Duccio's successors: Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Finally, you examine the Palazzo Pubblico, a civic building in Siena and a significant monument of the Italian Gothic.
10: The Black Death and the International Style
This lecture describes the effects on art of the bubonic plague of the mid-14th century by comparing the same subject from works before and after the plague. You then follow the rise of the International Gothic style, which laid the foundation for the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century.
11: Early Renaissance Sculpture in Florence
Why did sculpture rather than painting lead to the development of the Renaissance style? You probe this question by looking at works by several great sculptors of the early 15th century, including Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Luca della Robbia.
12: Early Renaissance Architecture in Florence
You examine some spectacular and influential 15th-century architecture in Florence, focusing on buildings by Brunelleschi and Alberti. Looking closely, you can see how they solved major construction problems with new methods and inventions, which then changed the practice of architecture.
13: Masaccio and Early Renaissance Painting
You continue your study of Renaissance art by looking at paintings influenced by Brunelleschi's linear perspective method. This lecture focuses on Masaccio, who applied the principles of perspective brilliantly in frescos for the Brancacci Chapel and Santa Maria Novella, both in Florence.
14: Jan van Eyck and Northern Renaissance Art
Turning to northern Europe, you focus on Jan van Eyck and his Arnolfini Wedding Portrait and Ghent Altarpiece. In addition, you note the major differences between the Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance....
15: Northern Renaissance Altarpieces
Continuing the study of Northern Renaissance painting, you look at five altarpieces and one portrait by three artists: Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hugo van der Goes. You explore the symbolism and uncover various elements of Renaissance style and technique in these works.
16: Piero della Francesca in Arezzo
You study two single works and a fresco cycle by a Renaissance painter whose fame did not become widespread until the 20th century, Piero della Francesca. You look at his The Baptism of Christ, the Resurrection, and the chapel with the Legend of the True Cross, exploring his geometrically defined style and his artistic influences....
17: Sandro Botticelli
With a lyrical style joined to innovative religious and allegorical subject matter, Botticelli is one of the best-known painters of the Renaissance. You explore the full span of his work, from the sensual rendition of Mars and Venus to interpretations of Christian themes such as the tragic Lamentation....
18: Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni Bellini
In this lecture, you focus on two artists in northern Italy, Mantegna and Bellini. Looking at Mantegna's famous frescoes in the Ducal Palace in Mantua, you can see the striking illusionism that influenced artists such as Bellini, whose work you compare and contrast with Mantegna's.
19: High Renaissance Painting in Venice
You continue to explore Venetian painting with Bellini, and then move on to his great pupils, Giorgione and Titian. First, you look at a portrait by Bellini and one of his altarpieces. Then you study Giorgione's Pastoral Concert and close with several works by Titian, including his vivid Bacchus and Ariadne....
20: The High Renaissance-Leonardo da Vinci
The quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci was a universal genius in painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, and the sciences of his day. After studying one of his drawings, you look at the influential innovations in three famous paintings: Madonna of the Rocks, Mona Lisa, and The Last Supper....
21: The High Renaissance-Raphael
Renowned for his many graceful images of the Madonna and his amazingly lifelike portraits, Raphael's larger masterpieces were the frescoes decorating the papal apartments in the Vatican. You study the broad range of his work and the innovations he contributed to Renaissance painting.
22: The High Renaissance-Michelangelo
In this lecture, you study the most famous works from the first half of Michelangelo's career: the Pietà, David, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Each displays a different element of his genius, and the stunning scope and brilliant execution of the Sistine Chapel ceiling made him the most influential artist in Europe....
23: Albrecht Durer and German Renaissance Art
Leaving the Renaissance behind, you explore two northern European artists. First, you look at an engraving by Martin Schongauer. Then you focus on Albrecht Dürer, examining his influences and his original blend of Renaissance and northern European artistic characteristics.
24: Riemenschneider and Grunewald
In this lecture, you explore the work of two more German artists. You look at Riemenschneider's Altarpiece of the Holy Blood and Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, discovering the artists' contrasting styles and approaches to sacred subjects....
25: Netherlandish Art in the 16th Century
You look at four 16th-century artists from the Netherlands: Hieronymus Bosch, Joachim Patinir, Jan Gossaert, and Lucas van Leyden. You focus in particular on Bosch's famous triptych, Garden of Earthly Delights, which may have been commissioned for the private enjoyment of a nobleman....
26: Pieter Bruegel the Elder
You study the diverse and marvelous paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, which range from his imaginative depiction of the Fall of Icarus, to his vast landscape of Hunters in the Snow, to the political The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind....
27: Mannerism and the Late Work of Michelangelo
You explore Mannerism, which began in 16th-century Italy and spread throughout Europe. The lecture explains the characteristics of Mannerism and looks at representative artists, such as Jacopo Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, Parmigianino, and Agnolo Bronzino. You also study the later work of Michelangelo.
28: Annibale Carracci and the Reform of Art
This lecture discusses the reaction against Mannerism exemplified by Antonio Correggio and the Carracci family of Bologna. Correggio is noted for his illusionistic paintings. The Carracci family founded a teaching academy that influenced many artists. In particular, you look at Annibale Carracci's famous decoration of the Farnese Gallery.
You focus on a single artist of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, Caravaggio. Briefly outlining his scandalous life, the lecture shows why critics are confounded by his sexual undertones and profound reverence for sacred subjects. He is also noted for his distinctive treatment of light and dark.
30: Italian Baroque Painting in Rome
Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio, covered in the previous two lectures, formed a bridge from art of the 16th century to the 17th century. They are also considered founders of the 17th-century style called Baroque. You study artists who embraced this style, which exemplifies the artistic revival in Italy after the religious and political disruptions of the 16th century.
31: Gian Lorenzo Bernini
You look at Bernini, the single greatest artist in Rome during the Baroque period. Bernini was a painter, architect, and above all, a sculptor. You focus on his sculptures, including Apollo and Daphne, and marvel at his sweeping piazza in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome....
32: Peter Paul Rubens
A renowned and astonishingly prolific artist, Peter Paul Rubens painted grand works for patrons in Italy, Flanders, Spain, France, and England. In this lecture, you look at several of the most important, including three huge altarpieces, his Marie de' Medici cycle, and a selection of self-portraits and landscapes....
33: Dutch Painting in the 17th Century
In the northern Netherlands, painting flourished in the open marketplace, where artists specialized in various genres. You look at these specific genres and a group of representative artists: Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Jan van Goyen, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Johannes Vermeer.
Among the most celebrated names in the history of art is Rembrandt, whose work touched on almost every aspect of human life. You examine his profound religious paintings and his famous portraits and self-portraits. You study the remarkable effects he achieved in the art of etching, in which he has never been surpassed.
35: Poussin and Claude-The Allure of Rome
Rembrandt was deeply influenced by the art of Rome from the High Renaissance. Although he never traveled to Italy, he clearly admired and borrowed from its artists. Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain, too, took inspiration from Rome, and both of these French artists spent most of their lives there.
36: Baroque Painting in Spain
In this lecture, you look at four painters living and working in Spain in the "golden age" of Spanish art during the late 16th and 17th centuries. You examine the expressive distortions of form of El Greco, the powerful light-dark contrasts of Francisco de Zurbaran, the affecting painting of Murillo, and the brilliant illusionism of Velazquez.
37: Louis XIV and Versailles
You tour the architecture and gardens of the palace at Versailles and learn how these elements reinforced Louis XIV's self image as the "Sun King." Then you study the work of Watteau to appreciate the pervading sense of nostalgia in the transition from the Baroque to the Rococo.
38: French Art in the 18th Century
After Watteau, French art reflected the much-changed atmosphere of the court of Louis XV and the increasing importance of the middle class. You look at variations to be found within this century, including the supreme still lifes and restrained genre pictures of Chardin, the moral sentiment of Greuze, and the Rococo frivolity of Boucher and Fragonard.
39: Neoclassicism and the Birth of Romanticism
Artistic tastes veered into a more severe mode in the late 1700s, and the resulting style was called Neoclassicism. You study examples by the greatest sculptor of the day, Jean-Antoine Houdon, and by the painters Jacques-Louis David and Francisco Goya, who made realistic, sometimes horrific images.
40: Romanticism in the 19th Century
You now turn to Romanticism-an outlook that can be expressed in more than one artistic style. You examine several artists' "brands" of Romanticism, including those of Theodore Gericault, Eugène Delacroix, John Constable, and William Turner.
41: Realism-From Daumier to Courbet
In this lecture, you look at three of Realism's practitioners: Honore Daumier, Jean François Millet, and Gustave Courbet. You see their unrelenting depictions of the changes then taking place in France and across Europe.
42: Manet and Monet-The Birth of Impressionism
In this lecture, you look at two French artists: Manet, who has been seen as the wellspring of Modernism, and Monet, whose Impression: Sunrise gave the name to the new style. You examine elements in their paintings that point to a radical break with art of the past....
43: Monet and Degas
You continue your study of Monet with his sequence of paintings of Rouen Cathedral and his water-lily series. Then you follow the career of Edgar Degas, one of the great draftsmen of the 19th century, who depicted contemporary scenes of the circus, ballet, and cafe life.
44: Renoir, Pissarro, and Cezanne
You review the characteristics of Impressionism, with the caution that you must see what an artist actually does, rather than look for the acting out of a theory. Then you study the careers of Renoir, Pissarro, and Cezanne, examining in detail a few representative masterpieces.
45: Beyond Impressionism-From Seurat to Matisse
The ambiguity of the term Impressionism applies even more to the style called Post-Impressionism, which is not strictly speaking "after" Impressionism. You look at the careers and works of three of these artists, Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh, who paved the way for the revolutionary style of Matisse.
46: Cubism and Early Modern Painting
This lecture covers the innovations of Picasso, Braque, and Matisse in the first two decades of the 20th century. In a period that was rich in artistic exploration, these pioneers produced works that had immense influence on other artists.
47: Modern Sculpture-Rodin and Brancusi
Turning to modern sculpture, you focus primarily on the works of Rodin. A lifelong student of the art of Michelangelo, Rodin developed an expressive style that influenced his more radical and minimalist successors, such as Brancusi and Naum Gabo, who you also explore in this lecture.
48: Art between Two Wars-Kandinsky to Picasso
You look at a series of works influenced by events of the 20th century between the two world wars, including such styles as German Expressionism, Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism.