WEEK ONE: 9 - 13 July 2012

Course 3: Gail Turner

The Arts in Spain in the 16th and 17th Centuries: Patronage by Church and State under the Habsburgs


detail of Velazquez painting of Pope Innocent X head and right-hand side of chair
Diego Velazquez, detail of Innocent X, 1650, Galleria Doria Pamphilj

This course is an introduction to the extraordinary wealth and variety of the arts in Spain - from the post-Islamic 16th century to the end of the Habsburg era.  Spain’s vast empire attracted talented artists, architects and sculptors from all over Europe.  Italian and Flemish prints were often the initial inspiration for many artists of Spain’s Golden Age of the 17th  century. Spain led the Counter Reformation against the Protestant movement and the Spanish Church commissioned vast numbers of religious images during the late 16th and 17th centuries. Realism was considered most effective in communicating the Catholic cause. This is reflected in the paintings of Velázquez, Zurbarán, and Murillo, and in contemporary sculptures, some of which even incorporated ivory teeth and glass eyes.  This period saw the origins of the enduring tradition of popular processions, during which life-size images of Christ and the Virgin were paraded round the streets.  Meanwhile the court in Madrid commissioned grand-style portraiture and decorative schemes, demonstrating the  formality and the power of the Habsburg Empire while seemingly ignoring the realities of the impending political and economic melt-down. Visits will include the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection and The Courtauld Prints & Drawings Collection. 

WEEK TWO: 16 - 20 July 2012

Course 12: Dr Cecily Hennessy

City of Splendour: Art and Society in Constantinople


Constantinople was the political and artistic capital of Byzantium for over a thousand years, celebrated for its legendary wealth and ceremony. This course traces its development from the time of Constantine to its fall in 1453, exploring the visual heritage of this renowned city. It was enriched with palaces, adorned with magnificent churches and celebrated as the centre for manuscript illumination and myriad forms of mosaic decoration, wall-painting, metal work and ivory production. Patronage in Byzantium lay often with imperial powers and the aristocracy but also with the Church and monasteries. We discuss this in relation to the complex manifestations of political and religious power in the city and its empire, exploring the major buildings, such as Haghia Sophia and the Kariye Camii as well as the finest examples of artistic production. It is planned that visits include a special handling session at the British Museum and a visit to the British Library.




WEEK THREE: 23 - 27 July 2012

Course 21: Dr Richard Williams

Van Dyck and Art at the Stuart Court



Anthony van Dyck revolutionised painting in England, transforming the stiff formality of Tudor portraits into dazzling works of art. This, together with patronage of other great artists of the age such as Rubens and Bernini, enabled James I and Charles I to establish the Stuart court as a centre for the arts of European importance. Artists glorified the Stuart kings in new ways, including court entertainments that used revolving stages and trap doors to create breath-taking spectacles. Unrivalled art collections of the greatest works of Titian and other Renaissance masters were formed, which exerted their own influence on Van Dyck and his contemporaries. This course will also consider what part Charles I’s love of the arts played in his downfall, and re-evaluate the fate of the arts under Oliver Cromwell. Recent research has shown that Cromwell’s regime continued to exploit painting and other art forms to further its cause, even adapting Van Dyck’s portraits of King Charles to promote its image at home and abroad. Visits will include the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Banqueting House in Whitehall where many of the court entertainments ('masques') were performed and where Rubens’ great painted ceiling survives in its original location.