Course Description

‘Introduction to Art History’

Dr Anne Puetz and Clare Richardson


This intensive course has been devised for people who would like to develop their interest in works of art and the discipline of art history.  It is co-taught by an art historian and a conservator to give participants insight into art from different and complementary perspectives.  The course is open to everyone, including students from the age of 16.

A Critical survey of periods and ‘isms’

We will take a close and critical look at the development of the various ‘periods’, ‘movements’ and ‘isms’ by which the history of Western art is conventionally structured, and at the alleged characteristics of the art they produced. 

Looking at Art

Students will be introduced to some of the important conventions that governed the production of art in different historical periods and will examine how works of art are made. We shall look at objects from The Courtauld collections ranging from paintings to prints, drawings and sculpture, to show how the techniques and artistic strategies used to create them affect not only their appearance but also their meanings.


Critical Reading 

We will look at the discipline of art history: how writers on art have analysed artists' work, and the changing criteria they have used to assess their creations. We shall examine the different methodologies that have informed the writing about art to the present day through a study of selected key texts and through a close look at one or two iconic works from the Courtauld Gallery’s collection.


Interpreting Art

During the final day students will be introduced to the workings of public art galleries: not only how they collect and conserve works of art but also how they display and interpret them.

The course includes illustrated lectures and more informal sessions in front of works of art in The Courtauld Gallery and its Print Room and in The Courtauld Institute of Art’s conservation studios (please note that the Print Room and the Conservation studios are not wheelchair accessible). It aims to initiate students in the practice of close looking and in the habit of critical reading and thinking about art. We hope to stimulate debate and invite participants to ask questions and discuss ideas with the two course leaders and fellow students. The group will be limited to a maximum of 32 participants; it will be subdivided into two groups with a maximum of 16 students for in situ sessions in the Gallery, Print Room and conservation studios.

Provisional course timings: 9.30 am (registration) to 5 pm on the first day; 10.00 – 5.15 pm on Tuesday; 10.00 – 5.00 pm on Wednesday and Thursday.