Florence and the Renaissance: 1400 - 1600

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Explore the world of Renaissance Florence with this 6-week art history course looking at the rise and fall of the greatest City of Art on its journey from proud republic to absolute monarchy.

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

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course photo
Portrait of Short Course Leader Kevin Childs

Short Course Leader
Kevin Childs

Kevin Childs is a freelance writer and lecturer on culture and art history in the United Kingdom and Italy, where he leads specialised tours of Rome, Venice and Florence. He has been convening and contributing to courses at the V&A for nearly ten years and has taught on the Art History and Visual Culture BA course at Exeter University.

I can't tell you how thankful I am that the V&A took the decision to take these courses online - I would never have been able to access the course in person Online course attendee

Course overview

This Renaissance course will chart the relationship between Florence’s shifting power struggles and the extraordinary flowering of visual arts that emerged in the 15th century and continued under the Medici principate in the 16th century. The role of money and the city’s powerful international banking system in funding a magnificent artistic heritage will be considered, along with the rise of a single family, the Medici, to a position of supreme power over all the cities of Tuscany.
We will examine the remarkable painters, sculptors and architects who made the transformation possible, including, Donatello and Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, and the bitter rivalry between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. We’ll study the emergence of a new understanding and appreciation of classical Antiquity through the poets and philosophers who formed the Platonic Academy under the patronage of Lorenzo the Magnificent. In the 16th century the role of courtier artists such as Pontormo, Bronzino and Vasari in creating the image of a new ‘Imperial’ city under Florence’s first Grand Duke, Cosimo I, will also be explored.


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V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

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Online course: Florence and the Renaissance: 1400 - 1600

28 May 2024 - 2 July 2024


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

Related events

Header image: Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, Sandro Botticelli, 1470s