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.

Unit code: DS9212Y

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Spirituality

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Identify and locate the sources of the central iconographic themes of Christian art in the West, c. 1300-1500


Apply the basic vocabulary of visual analysis and historical inquiry in both oral and written work


Evaluate some of the lenses (historical, biblical, spiritual, literary) through which the interpreter views visual images


Critically appraise bibliographic resources both in oral and written work


Display sophisticated capacity to analyse and synthesise research material and to express findings coherently in written form


Lectures, class discussion and class visit to the NGV International

Indicative Bibliography

  • Baxandall, Michael. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
  • Clifton, James. The Body of Christ in the Art of Europe and New Spain, 1150-1800. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1997.
  • Finaldi, Gabriele. The Image of Christ. London: National Gallery Company Ltd, 2000.
  • Hamburger, J. The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany. New York: Zone Books, 1998.
  • de Voragine Jacobus. The Golden Legend. Translated by William Granger Ryan, 2 vols, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Katz, Melissa 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 Publishing Ltd, 2004.
  • Os, H.W. van. The Art of Devotion in the Late Middle Ages in Europe 1300-1500. Princeton, N.J. Princeton University Press, 1994
  • Raitt, J. (ed.) Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation. New York: Crossroad, 1988.
  • Woods, Kim W., (ed.) Art and visual culture: 1100-1600: medieval to renaissance. Millbank, London: Tate Publisher in association with Open University, 2012.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Material Culture Analysis 2000 words

2000 30.0

Essay 5000 words

5000 70.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-11-13 09:19:54 +1100