Renaissance Men

by Rita Perry

Rita Perry is a graduate student in Educational Technology at San Diego State University. Her background is in computer science and fine arts.


Instructional Objective The learners will be able to match artwork created during the Renaissance period with the artist and the period in which it was created: Proto-Renaissance, Early Renaissance or High Renaissance. In this domain the students will learn to distinquish the styles of the individual artists and the characteristics of the different Renaissance periods through a more social, entertaining method than the traditional method of slide memorization and reviews.

Learners/Context The learners are students in the second semester of The Survey of Western Art, a college level or A.P. High School course. Because this is a requirement for a B.A. in art, most students are art majors. Most students are freshman or sophmores, but a small number will be "mature" adults returning to study art history for enrichment. The typical student will have a non-technical B.A. degree or will be pursing one.


The game is designed to be played after the class has completed studying the High Renaissance period. It can be played in class and during student breaks and group study sessions.

Rationale The card game is an appropriate format because it encourages collaboration among these students who tend to thrive in a creative, social environment, especially the freshmen, who may be lacking the discipline and motivation to memorize the information on their own. The game can be easily transported and can be played among friends socializing over coffee.

Rules Two to four people may play at the same time.

The game, similar to "Gin Rummy", is played in the following manner:

  1. The object of the game is to form three sets from a dealt hand of nine cards. The following combinations constitute a set.
    - one artwork card/one artist name card/one Renaissance period card (all from the same period)
    - three artist name cards representing artists from the same period
    - three artwork cards representing artwork from the same period
    Note: three Renaissance period cards do not represent a set.
    The dealer deals nine cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down and the top card is turned over to begin the discard stack. Moving clockwise from the dealer, the first player chooses either the discarded card or a card from the face down pile. The player determines which cards to keep and discards the extra card. The first player to form three valid sets from ten cards wins the game.


  2. The Use of "Mona Lisa" Cards. The deck contains three Mona Lisa cards which are wild cards. A player may substitue them for any card.

Card Design A card will be one of three types:
1) an artwork card (includes the Mona Lisa wild cards)
2) an artist name card
3) a Renaissance period card
They are the same size as playing cards with a picture of Michelangelo's Statue of David on the back.

Deck Design The deck has a total of 57 cards arranged as follows:
Each of the three Renaissance periods contains six, three card sets (artwork card, artist name card, Renaissance period card) for a total of 54 cards. The additional three Mona Lisa wild cards bring the deck total to 57.

Sample Cards

Artwork Card, Artist name card, Renaissance period card

Mona Lisa Wild Card

Design Process As a returning "mature" student, I took my first art history class for enrichment. Fortunately I was disciplined to study but saw many students who were not. The class lectures can be fascinating with an entertaining professor, but the slide memorization/review exercises tend to be boring and dull, regardless. I remember wondering if there wasn't a better method to learn this material.

My initial idea was a card game for the entire second semester of Western Art History, covering the Proto-Renaissance to the Post-Modern periods. After compiling a list of the artists and works to include, I realized the deck would be too large and there would be too much material to absorb. Instead, small, more manageable decks focusing on a few art periods are a better way to organize this material.


De La Croix, H., & Tansey, R. (1986). Gardner's Art Through the Ages. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.

Last updated by Rita Perry on September 25, 1996.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1996.