Elective unit                                                                                                          (Min. No. 8)

2nd semester: Wednesday evening, cross listed as Spirituality DS9212Y



This unit investigates some of the ways in which visual images for example painting and sculpture reflected the spiritual characteristics and preoccupations of the Late Middle Ages, 1300-1500. After identifying the most important sacred stories and their chief personages, i.e. Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and various saints, the unit examines the patrons and audience for these “images of salvation”. What objects inspired devotion and how did these paintings, sculptures and other objects instruct the faithful in the mysteries of faith? Finally we will consider how space both private and communal was sanctified. Throughout this unit students will explore the problem of how visual and material expressions of spirituality in general, build on yet differ from textual ones.



Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. recognise the central iconographic themes of Christian art in the West, c. 1300-1500
  2. explain and apply the basic vocabulary of visual analysis and historical inquiry in both oral and written work
  3. evaluate some of the lenses (historical, biblical, spiritual, literary) through which the interpreter views visual images
  4. critically appraise bibliographic resources both in oral and written work
  5. sustain a critical analysis of historical sources (artistic, material and textual) in both oral and written work


Written visual and iconographic description and analysis of a painting or sculpture. 1500 words (20%); Critical review of article chosen in consultation with the instructor. 1000 words (20%); 3500 word research essay (60%)



Baxandall, Michael. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford: OUP, 1988.

Camille, Michael. Gothic Art: Glorious Visions. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Clifton, James. The Body of Christ in the Art of Europe and New Spain, 1150-1800. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1997.

De Voragine, Jacobus. The Golden Legend. Translated by William Granger Ryan. 2 Vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Finaldi, Gabriele. The Image of Christ. London: National Gallery, 2000.

Katz, M. R. Divine Mirrors: The Virgin Mary in the Visual Arts. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Marks, Richard. Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England. Stroud: Sutton, 2004.

Os, H. W. van. The Art of Devotion in the Late Middle Ages in Europe, 1300-1500. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Raitt, J., ed. Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation. New York: Crossroad, 1988.

Swanson, R. N. Religion and Devotion in Europe, c.1215-1515. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Verdon, Timothy. Mary in Florentine Art. Florence: Mandragora, 2003.

Woods, Kim W., ed. Art and Visual Culture: 1100-1600: Medieval to Renaissance. Millbank, London: Tate Publisher in association with Open University, 2012.