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Course Description

Competition was fierce in Renaissance Italy and the idea of paragone is central to the understanding of the art of that age. Was the ancient artist (from the Graeco-Roman world, whose ruins and legacy were still visible almost everywhere in Italy, but especially in Rome) the ideal model to be pursued? Or rather its modern counterpart, embodied by super stars such as Michelangelo and Raphael? What form of art was deemed the noblest? Painting or sculpture? Was nature the artist’s best, if not the sole, source of inspiration?

The High Renaissance has been traditionally associated to the idea of the pursuit of perfection and supreme achievement. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, Raphael’s School of Athens or Leonardo da Vinci’s Monna Lisa are considered unrivaled masterpieces. Where does this peculiar concept of progress in Italian Renaissance originate from? This course will investigate Giorgio Vasari’s idea of maniera moderna (modern style) by taking a journey through the lives of Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo to explore the developments of painting, drawing and sculpture from the late Quattrocento to the first half of the Cinquecento. We will explore how their different personalities shaped their relationships with patrons, how patrons often fueled rivalries, and what it took for the Renaissance artist to thrive in aggressively competitive centers of artistic production such as Florence or Rome.

This is an online/virtual synchronous course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts virtual courses are designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about virtual course policies and expectations, please visit

*Please note: this section is not open to high school students

Basic Enrollment Requirements: None.

Refund Policy: The refund policy for Courses at Tufts offerings is dependent on the offering type: whether the offering is a course, workshop or short course, or in-demand offering. Please refer to the section details to confirm the type of offering as well as any exceptions to the standard refund policy. The refund policies for each offering type are viewable here:

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences