WEEK ONE : 9 13 July 2012

Course 1: Dr Cecily Hennessy

Nike to Angel: The Inception of Early Christian Art


Christian imagery is central to our knowledge and experience of western art during the past two millennia.  This course explores the origins and influences of that imagery as it appears in wall paintings and monumental mosaics, in ivories, metalwork and manuscripts. In order to gain a perspective on its roots and influences, we look at key images and symbols from the pre-Christian world. We analyse their meanings and significance and discuss how they gained new interpretations when borrowed and adapted for fundamental aspects of Christian iconography. We also examine the role of art in religious belief and practice, focusing on key sites, such as Dura Europas in modern Syria and fascinating late antique cities, such as Ravenna, Rome and Constantinople as well as questioning major visual concepts such as the representation of Christ and of the Virgin. It is planned that visits include a special handling session at the British Museum.



WEEK TWO: 16–20 July 2012

Course 10: Dr Richard Williams

Art and the Reformation



This course is now FULL.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list


The Reformation ran in parallel with the Renaissance in 16th-   and 17th-century Europe, each exerting a profound effect on the visual arts. Often caricaturing the Protestant Reformation as purely destructive, art history has usually downplayed or overlooked the ways in which it shaped and re-directed the arts. Cranach collaborated with Luther to reinvent religious art so that it avoided medieval ‘superstition’, and other German artists, including Dürer and Holbein, took different approaches in adapting to the changing climate. Bruegel and others developed new, less controversial subjects such as landscapes, still-life, and genre scenes. We can also detect a new ‘Protestant sensibility’ in the art of Rembrandt whose down-to-earth realism contrasts so dramatically with the grandiose works of Rubens, a representative of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Moreover, the Reformation forced a re-evaluation of the purpose of the visual image, shifting from a religious icon to a ‘work of art’, admired for its beauty. This course looks at the art of Northern Europe from the destruction of a rich tradition of medieval art to the flourishing of new and often very moving works. Visits will include the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum Department of Prints and Drawings.


WEEK THREE: 23–27 July 2012

Course 19: Dr Rose Walker

The Road to Compostela



top part of a stone wayside cross from santiago de compostela
Wayside Cross in Santiago de Compostela

‘There are four roads … ’, so begins the ‘Pilgrim’s Guide’ to Santiago de Compostela in the Codex Calixtinus, the manuscript that was stolen from the cathedral in 2011. The text goes on to describe an itinerary of holy bodies; good and bad rivers; places to stay and people to avoid.  Along those same roads some of the finest monuments of Romanesque art came into being.

This course will look at buildings, sculpture and reliquaries at sites along the roads in France and Spain, including the mesmeric image of Sainte-Foy at Conques and the cloisters of Moissac and Santo Domingo de Silos. It will also look at England’s fascination with Santiago de Compostela over the centuries. We will visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, and Reading Abbey where they once claimed to have the arm of St James.