ARTH413 – Art in the Age of Exploration


Prof. Mónica Domínguez

Seminar Hours: Wednesday 3-6 pm

Seminar Location: 325 Old College

Office Location: 308 Old College

Office Hours: Wednesday 11-1 pm
or by appointment



Course Information | Grading | Calendar | Links and Study Guides



course information

This seminar discusses a variety of European images and collections during the period generally called the "Age of Exploration" (mid-15th century to the mid 17th century). Throughout the course, we will discuss artistic representations of "exotic" lands and peoples by renowned European artists, such as Albert Dürer, Hans Burgkmair, Jan Brueghel, Giovanni Tiepolo, and Pieter Paul Rubens. The last sessions will address the integration of non-European artifacts to early modern collections.


This course satisfies the Arts & Science writing requirement.




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grading information

There will be three main assignments throughout the term: 


Essay review and discussion (25%)

Research paper (35%)

In-class presentation (25%)


The remaining 15% of the final grade would be assessed taking into account attendance and class participation.



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course calendar


Sep 2      Introduction to the Course


Sep 9      A World of Mapping


Sep 16    Conceptualizations of Nature


Sep 23    New "Things" in the European Market


Sep 30    Picturing the Savage


Oct 7      Race and Representation


Oct 14    Understanding Foreign Religions


Oct 21    Allegories of the Continents


Oct 28    Performing the Other


Nov 4     The Wunderkammer


Nov 11   Visit to the Walters Museum in Baltimore


Nov 18   Student presentations


Nov 25   Student presentations


Dec 2      Student presentations




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links and study guides

Bibliographic resources


Electronic resources


List of Readings


Sep 2: Introduction to the course

Š     Grafton, Anthony. “Introduction,” in: New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992, pp. 1-10.


Sep 9: A World of Mapping

Š     Fiorani, Francesca. The Marvel of Maps: Art, Cartography, and Politics in Renaissance Italy. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005, pp. 16-59.


Sep 16: Conceptualizations of Nature

Š     Lazzaro, Claudia. “Animals as Cultural Signs:  A Medici’s Menagerie in the Grotto at Castello” in: Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450-1650. Edited by Claire Farago. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1995, pp. 197-228.


Sep 23: New “Things” in the European Market

Š     Massing, Jean Michel. “Early European Images of America: The Ethnographic Approach” in: Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration. Edited by J. A. Levenson. New Haven/Washington D.C.: Yale University Press, National Gallery of Art, 1991, pp. 514-520.

Š     Sullivan, Edward. “Wondrous Objects” in: The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007, pp. 1-30.


Sep 30: Picturing the Savage

Š     Schreffler, Michael. “Vespucci Rediscovers America and the Pictorial Rhetoric of Cannibalism,” Art History 28:3 (2005): 295-310.

Š     Gaudio, Michael. “Savage Marks. The Scriptive Techniques of Early Modern Ethnography” in: Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008, pp. 1-44


Oct 7: Race and Representation

Š     Anonymous (1587). “A Description of the Tupinambá” in: The Brazil Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Edited by Robert M. Levine and John J. Crocitti. Durham: Kuke University Press, 1999, pp. 25-32

Š     Parker Brienen, Rebecca. “Albert Eckhout's Paintings of the ‘Wilde Natien’ of Brazil and Africa” in: Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 53 (2003): 107-137.


Oct 14: Understanding Foreign Religions

Š     MacCormack, Sabine. “Limits of Understanding: Perceptions of Greco-Roman and Amerindian Paganism in Early Modern Europe” in: America in European Consciousness, 1493-1750. Edited by Karen Ordahl Kupperman. Chapel Hill: Institute of Early American History and Culture; University of North Carolina Press, 1995, pp. 79-129.


Oct 21: Allegories of the Continents

Š     Honour, Hugh. “A Land of Allegory” in: New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975,  pp. 84-117.

Š     Alpers, Svetlana and Michael Baxandall. Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996, pp. 101-166


Oct 28: Performing the Other

Š      Mullaney, Steven. “The New World on Display: European Pageantry and the Ritual Incorporation of the Americas” in: New World of Wonders: European Images of the Americas, 1492-1700. Edited by Rachel Doggett et at. Washington, DC: Folger Shakespeare Library; University of Washington Press, 1992, pp. 105-113.

Š     Verberckmoes, Johan. “Parading Hilarious Exotics in the Spanish Netherlands,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 53 (2003): 53-69.


Nov 4: The Wunderkammer

Š     Kenseth, Joy. The Age of the Marvelous.  Hanover, NH: Hood Museum of Art, Darmouth College, 1991, pp. 24-59, 81-101







Course Information | Grading | Calendar | Links and Study Guides



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