The Early Italian Renaissance

This course explores the principal developments and innovations of Italian art that occurred in the fifteenth century. A constellation of artists and architects, including Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Donatello, Masaccio, Leon Battista Alberti, Fra Filippo Lippi and Sandro Botticelli all created ground-breaking works for Florentine institutions and families that are still considered milestones in the history of Western art today. This course considers the lives, works and patrons of these figures as well as the political, social and religious context of life in fifteenth-century Italy. This course includes on-site visits to the Brancacci chapel in the church of the Carmine, the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the church of San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, the convent of Sant’ Apollonia, the convent of San Marco, the church of Orsanmichele and the church of Santa Maria Novella. 


Scroll through the calendar below to locate individual sessions, as well as cultural events at the Harold Acton Library:


View meeting points for course visits and further sites of interest:



What are the most valuable aspects of the course?

• The bringing together of all aspects i.e. religion, politics, art and history and giving clarity to the period. Acted as a Rosetta stone to unlock any problems and stimulate further study. E .G. – New Zealand

• There are so many diverse benefits of taking this course that are not only restricted to art, but mostly I would like to say that I noticed that I look and don’t see. This course has above all taught me how to see. Thank you! B.A.H. – Jordan

• I studied in Florence 40 years ago. The British Institute allowed me to fulfill my wish to fill huge gaps in my education. S.H. – United States


What are the most valuable characteristics of our lecturers?

• On library lectures or walking lectures each lecturer brings their expertise and knowledge, explained and told to the group, whether an art history expert or total novice. L.N. – England

• The lecturers are very knowledgeable in their field. They are articulate, approachable, totally involved in their fields and enthusiastic. R.R. – England

• Rich information, good duration (timing), easy to understand vocabulary. S.Z. – Brazil