Understanding “Boccaccio and Botticelli”

This week, English Teacher Dr. Diane Senior and Art Teacher Janice Wilke co-taught an interdisciplinary class lesson on “Boccaccio and Botticelli” (Advanced Topics English and Art History), which brought together two ways of understanding a story — through language and through images.

The 14
th century Florentine writer Boccaccio narrates a perennial, surprisingly relevant story of love, rejection, retribution and resolution; about 130 years later the Florentine Renaissance painter Botticelli interprets the same story through painting. The students considered the unfolding of the narrative through both art forms and engaged with Boccaccio’s and Botticelli’s personal journeys through the changing mores of their times.

Using the tools of the art historian and literary critic, students pieced together a myriad of practical and theoretical findings that allowed their minds to wonder and discover new insights. The class concluded with a reflection: why are we compelled to engage with these two artists over 500 years later? Students considered possible life lessons, learned empathy and heightened understanding our human condition, but ultimately they were struck by the power of beauty - an elegantly narrated tale and exquisite images on wood panels highlighted how Baldwin students go beyond the work of well-trained analysts to find an appreciation of the beauty of art.