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Art production in the 16th-century courts in Northern Europe: Fontainebleau and Prague: prints and drawings from the Special Collections of the UL


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations. Master and Research Master Arts and Culture.


Since the rediscovery of Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino and El Greco in the 20th century the term ‘mannerism’ is primarily associated with artists who distanced themselves from the classical canon. They were more occupied with their imagination than with the imitation of nature.

This seminar focuses on the production of art in two 16th-century courts in Northern Europe: Fontainebleau and Prague, where it was connected with the ornamental, wealth and ingenuity. Moreover, printmaking played a key role in this development. The printed picture became a popular means of spreading the exuberant imagery. In the Special Collections of the Leiden University Library are wonderful examples of works that emerged in the international courts of Fontainebleau and Prague. These include drawings and prints by famous artists such as Rosso Fiorentino, Francesco Primaticcio and Bartholomeus Spranger. Narrative pictures, erotic, mythological scenes, and ornamental prints alternate. During the seminar these works are systematically studied for the first time and displayed in the form of an exhibition to the public.

Course objectives

This seminar has three educational components:

  • Methodological: divergent views regarding the use of the term ‘Mannerism’. In the introduction the relevant literature and sources will be critically analyzed and discussed in groups.

  • Visual analysis of the material with special attention to graphic techniques and modern methods of material research.

  • Making a selection for an exhibition and writing texts for a catalogue. The texts are to be published digitally as a web exhibition.


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Excursion: For this course an excursion to Florence will be organized. The excursion will take place from 20-24 October.

Course Load

Total course load for the course is 10 EC (280 hours).

Classes: 13 × 4 = 52 hours
Presentations: 55 hours
Outline: 55 hours
Research paper: 108 hous

Assessment method

  • Methodological discussions (15%)

  • Research proposal (15%)

  • Oral presentations (15%)

  • Texts for exhibition catalog (55%)

Re-sit: paper (100%)


Blackboard will be used for a few additional readings with the lectures (next to the course book) and visual presentations.

Reading list

Reading list will be available at the first session.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Drs. N.L. Bartelings