AH20290 Art & Death

Academic Year 2024/2025

*** Not available in the academic year indicated above ***

(NB. This is an evening lecture module that runs on Monday evenings at Belfield in the Spring 2024, 6-8pm - please make sure that you will be free to attend at this time; the course will combine its cohort with that of the Access and Lifelong Learning Module AE-AN241 - Memory and Mortality In Renaissance and Baroque Art.)
This module examines death as a theme in European art during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. There will be three broad areas of study:
1) Death & Belief: covering portrayals of the Last Judgement, Danse Macabre, Vanitas, and other eschatological themes that illustrate responses to death and the afterlife in an age of religious reform. Artists covered include Giotto, Rogier van der Weyden, Michelangelo, Holbein, Bruegel, Rubens and Bernini.
2) Personalities & Effigies: individualistic responses to the nature of mortality with reference to the development of tomb monuments, effigies and memorial portraiture. Typical themes include Michelangelo's tomb designs, John Donne's monument at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and royal funerary effigies in France and England. We shall also look at how artists such as Titian responded to their own sense of professional identity in the context of aging and mortality.
3) Decay & Dissection: artworks that reflect an increasingly rational and scientific understanding of the body as a vehicle for existence, particularly in the post-Reformation period. We shall look at the anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci, the portrayal of disease in Venetian renaissance painting, and Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate:

- an ability to regularly and punctually attend classes, an ability to work to set deadlines and submit original, non-plagiarised work in accordance with the standards ordinarily expected at university.

- familiarity and understanding of a range of set texts and critical/ theoretical sources relevant to the course, and be able to work under test/ exam conditions without reliance on supplementary notes or other learning aids.

- demonstrate an appreciation and knowledge of the key artists/ images discussed on the module.

- discuss and analyse the form and function of death as a theme in early modern Europe.

- relate portrayals of death to the social and historical context of the period.

Indicative Module Content:

Provisional List of Topics
Judgement, Heaven & Hell in Renaissance Painting
Devotional Art as a Comfort to the Dying
The Danse Macabre in Paintings and Prints
The Royal Tombs of Renaissance France
Memorials to the Artist in Renaissance Italy
The Royal Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey
Tomb Design in Reformation England
English Images of Mourning
Art & Anatomy in 17thc Europe

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The course consists of two lectures pw on Monday evenings in the spring at Belfield. The course will combine its cohort with that of the Access and Lifelong Learning Module AE-AN241 - Memory and Mortality In Renaissance and Baroque Art. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.