Social History of Art

Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in COMMUNICATION SCIENCES
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Supplementary compulsory subjects
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (56 hours)

Specific prerequisites and/or any kind of knowledge on Art History and Architecture History are not required, as a limited type of secondary schools provide it. In any case students are required to refer to the learning of History, Philosophy, Geography and Literature History achieved during the years of high school.

Final Examination: 

The final examination consists of an oral test which includes three questions on wide ranging topics and on specific ones (i.g.: Ottonian Art; the analysis of a Gothic monument selected by the student; Filippo Brunelleschi). They will cover the complete programme through the time frame considered (generally one question from 10th to 12th century, a second one on 13th. 14th century and the last one on the first half of the 5th century). The student will be asked to emphasize relationships and connections between different topics delivered during lessons.
The result is expressed with a 30-point scale that can be divided into failing (0 to 17) and passing (18 to 30 cum laude) grades. The mark is based on a general assessment on the answers to the three questions. They all have the same value. The final mark will be revised considering the global knowledge of the student.
The fundamental principles are: the knowledge acquired, considering the communications skills required by the Bachelor’s Degree course, the correct positioning of phenomena, events and objects in space and time, the ability in formal reading (with special care of the historical criteria and data and not the emotional ones), including a critical judgment (with references to the contemporary cultural heritage) and suggestions of proper comparisons, the communication skill using the proper language, as suggested during lessons.

Voto Finale

The course of Storia Sociale dell’Arte belongs
to the group of humanistic studies which feature the Bachelor’s Degree course in Communication Science.
The student will receive an overview of the Italian History of Art and Architecture from the 10th century to the first four decades of the 15th century, including comparative and supplementary elements of European and Mediterranean History of Art and researches on the Lombard area. Considering this last topic, it is remarkable the knowledge of a longlasting and European phenomenon: the activity of Lombard Lake Artists in the different branches of painting, sculpture, architecture.
Specific care is required to the correct identification of the iconographic and iconological elements, the patronage taste and the public perception of Art and Architecture.
Among the learning abilities expected to be acquired there are the capability of visual analysis, the development of communication skills using the proper language; the development of a comparative attitude, considering the correct geographical, chronological and cultural context can be pointed out. The student will be able to investigate the art work, connecting it with geographical and chronological contexts, analysing with attention its art language, describing it with terminological precision, showing the knowledge acquired connecting different phenomenon.
The acquired knowledge can contribute to the growth of the general skills of synthesis and processing of data and concepts derived from different sources, together with the development of the correct use of Italian language considering the specific dictionary required by the topics delivered.

The following topics will be delivered during lessons:
Methodological introduction to meaning of Social History of Art, the reading of a visual art work and of an architecture and to the use of the terminological dictionary;
Outline of Art History to the Carolingian age (this part will not be included in the final examination);
3. Ottonian Art;
4. Romanesque Art (focusing on the Italian Romanesque geography);
5. Gothic Art (focusing on the Italian Gothic geography);
6. International Gothic Art in Avignon (14th century);
7. Late Gothic Art;
8. The origin of the Flemish Art (late 14th century-first decades of the 15th century);
9. The origin of Italian Humanism (Italian Early Renaissance);
10. The ideal town of Castiglione Olona (Varese).

The following textbook is required to be studied:

P. De Vecchi – L. Cerchiari, Arte nel tempo, Bompiani/Mondadori 1995, considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.


Baldriga, Dentro L’Arte contesto metodo confronti, Mondadori/ Electa Scuola, 2016 considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.


L. Colombo, A. Dionisio, N. Onida, G. Savarese, Opera. Architettura e arti visive nel tempo, Sansoni per la Scuola, 2016 considering the chapters related to the chronological period indicated. All different editions of the book are accepted.

Further publications, as well required for the final examination, related to the phenomenon of “Lombard Lakes Artists” will be available on the e-learning platform. If any student has specific problems in finding any study material can ask the professor by writing an e-mail.
Educational supports available on the e-learning platform: art and architecture dictionary and lexicon (Italian language) and all the slides presented during lessons in PPT format (also available in PDF format).

The course will be delivered with frontal lessons, for the total amount of 64 hours. They will be all conducted with the support of PPT presentations, encouraging interaction between the lecturer and students. At the end of each lesson students can ask for clarifications and further explanations of the topics proposed.
The attendance of lessons is highly recommended to establish all the interdisciplinary connections (political history, historic geography, history of literature, etc.) and to make critical interpretations of the phenomena which will be proposed by the teacher lesson by lesson and which cannot be fully developed in the textbooks available.

Office hours. Before and after lessons it is always possible to have informal consultations or to require an appointment with the teacher. An appointment is required by sending an email to Please, do not forget to write your complete name and surname and your phone number to be used just in case of any urgent communication. The appointment will be scheduled within one week. It will take place at the professor’s office (Collegio Cattaneo, Via Jean Henry Dunant, 7 Varese).