WEEK ONE: 8 - 12 July 2013

Course 6: Dr Rose Kerr

China: The Arts of a Great Civilisation – from Antiquity to 1911


China has the longest continuous civilisation in the world, stretching back some 5000 years.  The course will trace the origins and development of Chinese art from the Neolithic era down to the end of dynastic rule in 1911.  The first crafts to develop were pottery-making and stone-carving, including finely worked artefacts in jade. China’s great Bronze Age saw the development of sophisticated casting to create bronzes of astonishing complexity.  Works in painting and calligraphy survive from the early centuries AD. These two arts are regarded by the Chinese as the pre-eminent manifestations of culture, and later attained high levels of sophistication. Architecture in China evolved in a whole landscape context, in which the values of fengshui (literally, ‘wind and water’) played a significant role. The history of ceramics includes many world ‘firsts’, such as the emergence of porcelain around AD 700.  A consideration of carvings in wood and jade, and of textiles and fashion, completes a programme that will also discuss China’s influence on Europe, through the export of goods that stimulated a fashion for ‘chinoiseries’ in the West. The course includes a handling session, and visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum.


WEEK THREE: 22 - 26 July 2013

Course 21: Dr Antonia Gatward Cevizli

The Art of the Sultans: Ottoman Art and Architecture


black and white archive photograph of the skyline of Istanbul

Istanbul, photograph © The Courtauld Institute of Art

The skyline of Istanbul is one of the most recognisable in the world. However, the Ottoman artistic tradition tends to be less widely known. This course traces the most significant developments of Ottoman art and architecture from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries. From the Green Mosque in the former Ottoman capital of Bursa, we will progress to Edirne and then on to that great prize: Istanbul. The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 was a major turning point, changing the way the Ottomans saw themselves and how they were regarded by others. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror initiated the city’s makeover, which transformed it into the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Our exploration of the art of the sultans will introduce us to patrons of the arts, such as Süleyman the Magnificent, the architect Sinan (often referred to as ‘the Michelangelo of the East’), and the most impressive sites of Istanbul, including the Topkapi Palace and the Süleymaniye Mosque. We will discover Ottoman carpets in the paintings of the National Gallery and explore the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum’s collections of textiles, Iznik ceramics and metalwork as well as coming face-to-face with Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Sultan Mehmed II.

Course 22: Professor Timon Screech

Power and Opposition in the Shogun’s Realm: Painting and Print making in Edo Period Japan


Japanese woodblock showing figures in a temple courtyard
Katsushika Hokusai, Inside the Courtyard of the Toeizan Temple at Ueno, c 1786, Brooklyn Museum

The early modern, or Edo Period (1603-1868) was one of the great periods of creativity in Japanese history, coming after some two centuries of civil war. Edo (now Tokyo) was the world’s largest city, and the site of massive production and consumption. Other metropoles, such as Kyô (now Kyoto), Osaka and Nagasaki developed their distinctive styles and practices, though much dependent on Edo. This course will consider the visual make-up of the whole Shogunal state, and as such will go beyond the standard materials of art historical analysis. We will consider the visual realm in its widest terms, such as urban planning and memorialisation, gardens and open spaces, as well, of course, as castles with their palatial interiors, and more routine decorations in paint, print or carving. The first half of the course will look at the arts of authority, notably the official Kano School, and the religious arts. The second will analyse the perhaps more vibrant popular schools, and the emergence of the world-famous Japanese woodblock print. We will go beyond old-fashioned notions of the Japan of this period as ‘isolated’, and inspect its international dimensions, in links with the Continent (China and Korea) and with Europe.



WEEK FOUR: 29 July - 2 August 2013

Course 30: Dr Mehreen Chida-Razvi

Poetry, Mythology and Elite Life: Royal Persian Painting in the 14th to 19th Centuries



This course will explore the realms of Persian painting during the reigns of the Ilkhanids, Timurids, Safavids and Qajars. We will pay particular attention to iconic illustrated versions of the Persian national epic, the Shahnama, the mythical Iranian ‘Book of Kings’; the great illustrated history of the world created by Rashid al-Din, his Jami al-Tawarikh; the dynamic miniatures in the Kalila wa Dimna, a collection of animal fables, and the wonderful images in poetic manuscripts such as the Khamsa of Nizami. This period also saw the rise of individual artists and we will examine the works of great Persian masters, including Bihzad and Riza Abbasi.  We will explore the increased production of single-page illustrations during this period, and the impact of external artistic styles and techniques on Persian painting, including the arrival of the Mongols to the region in the fourteenth century and the arrival of European arts and artistic technique in the seventeenth. We will further discuss the new trend of realistic representation occurring at this time, and the resultant impact on the creation of the distinctive Qajar style. As part of the course we will visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and the British Library.