WEEK ONE: 8 - 12 July 2013

Course 3: Dr Susan Jones and Clare Richardson

Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden: Materials, Methods and Meanings

The fee for this course is £475 as the group will be limited to 10 students; this also includes the cost of course materials

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


This course will examine Early Netherlandish painting in terms of the materials and methods it employed, and the meanings it delivered, by focusing on its most celebrated practitioners: Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. Through case studies of such paintings as van Eyck’s enigmatic Arnolfini Portrait and van der Weyden’s haunting Descent from the Cross, we will explore how their extraordinary work achieved its effects and how it was valued and viewed by their patrons. We will trace the artists’ creative processes by investigating the properties and possibilities of oil paint, the manufacture and preparation of panel supports, the design and underdrawing of compositions, and the procedures of paint application. Consideration of the contexts for which paintings were intended will further elucidate their meaning, using the latest research to investigate questions of audience, setting and function. Students will be introduced to the technical research methods employed by art historians to understand panel paintings: original objects will be scrutinised in The Courtauld’s Conservation Studios using microscopy, x-radiography, and infrared reflectography. We will visit The Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery and the British Museum to look at works by van Eyck and van der Weyden, their contemporaries and followers.


WEEK TWO: 15 - 19 July 2013

Course 10: Dr Lelia Packer

Bosch and Bruegel: New Visions of Fantasy and Everyday Life



Hieronymus Bosch’s bizarre and unusual imagery makes him one of the most mysterious painters of the Renaissance. His puzzling and often fantastical depictions of religious and genre subjects have led scholars to make a number of far-fetched assertions, claiming that he was a member of a heretical sect or a sexual libertine. In his own time, Bosch’s unique imagery attracted the most noble patrons as well as numerous followers who emulated his style. Pieter Bruegel the Elder most famously adapted Bosch’s visual strategies to produce a novel language for the representation of everyday life. He was one of the first to imbue the depiction of children’s games and peasant festivities with moral and narrative significance, and his landscapes and genre scenes are justly famous for their ability to capture the human spirit. This course will investigate how together Bosch and Bruegel profoundly transformed the course of Northern Renaissance art. Lectures will be complemented by first-hand examinations of paintings, drawings, and prints in London collections, including the National Gallery, The Courtauld Gallery and the British Museum.

Course 11: Dr Richard Williams

Art and the Reformation


The Reformation ran in parallel with the Renaissance in sixteenth-  and seventeenth-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: 22 - 26 July 2013

Course 17: Dr Eileen Rubery

Beauty and Splendour Piece by Piece: The Art of Mosaics from Antiquity to the Renaissance

The fee for this course is £475 as the group will be limited to 10 students; this also includes the cost of course materials/workshops

The use of coloured fragments of glass, stone, shells and earthenware to decorate floors, walls and ceilings occurs from the earliest of times. Mosaics form a robust, flexible and colourful decoration that also, especially when gold or silver is included, glitters and glows in the light, giving a unique impression of movement and liveliness. We shall consider how mosaics were made and what messages they were intended to convey to the observer. Starting with secular images on floors and in the ruins of Pompeii, we shall move on to look at the earliest Christian examples in Rome and Roman Britain, the mosaics of the Imperial Palace and Byzantine churches of Constantinople, and mosaics from Greece, Rome, Norman Sicily and Renaissance Venice. We shall see how mosaics were used to create some of the most sumptuous and spectacular celebrations of religious and secular power. Visits are to the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. There will also be three practical sessions in a mosaic workshop, where we will see modern examples and where every student will have the opportunity to make a small mosaic of their own.

Course 18: Caroline Brooke

Art, Money and Power: Medici Patronage in Florence c. 1420-1570


The name ‘Medici’ is synonymous with artistic innovation and achievement during the Renaissance in Florence. This course examines the art patronage of more than five generations of the dynasty, from the emergence of the family as a political force early in the Renaissance, to the establishment of the grand duke dynasty that reigned for almost two centuries. It focuses on the commissions of Cosimo the Elder, Piero the Gouty, Lorenzo the Magnificent, and Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany, in order to consider how the political, religious and social aspirations of individual members of the Medici family shaped the cultural and artistic life of the city. The works of major Florentine artists such as Donatello, Fra Filippo Lippi, Michelangelo and Bronzino are examined in relation to the tastes and aspirations of their patrons, as manifestations of civic pride, devotion, and personal ambition. Issues such as familial pietas, the varying fortunes of the Medici bank and the political climate of the period are also considered in relation to the development of Medicean patterns of patronage. Visits include the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Please note that Dr Scott Nethersole’s Study Tour to Florence from 27 – 29 September will pursue some of the themes of power and patronage discussed during the week.  Both course and tour are, however, entirely freestanding events and attendance at one does not require attendance at the other.


WEEK FOUR: 29 July - 2 August 2013

Course 26: Dr Janet Robson

A Tale of Two Cities: Florence, Siena and the Birth of Renaissance Art



Ever since Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century championed Cimabue and Giotto as the first great Italian artists, Florence has been proclaimed as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. But how accurate is this idea? Despite the fame of Giotto, his style was not the only one favoured in his native city, nor was painting in early Renaissance Italy completely dominated by Florentines. Sienese artists were just as successful, even winning major commissions from Florentine patrons. This course will reassess the relative contributions of Florence and Siena in the renewal of Italian painting between c.1280 and 1348. We will examine panel paintings and frescoes created by leading artists from the two rival cities, including the Florentines Cimabue, Giotto, Taddeo Gaddi and Bernardo Daddi, and the Sienese masters Duccio, Simone Martini, and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti. Can their work usefully be characterized as ‘Florentine’ or ‘Sienese’? Or was the style of painting produced in the two cities determined by other factors, such as the function of the work, its patrons and viewers? The course will include visits to the National Gallery and The Courtauld Gallery.

Course 27: Dr Michael Douglas-Scott

Art and Print Culture in Renaissance Venice


Renaissance Venice was a global hub of visual and textual communication. This position was strengthened in the late fifteenth century with the establishment of printing houses there. Venice was to become the most significant centre for the production of printed images and texts in Europe for a century. The rise of the printing industry provided opportunities for artists and architects working in the city. This involved not just book illustration and print-making but personal friendships with writers and publishers, cheaper and more varied source material and ultimately a more powerful position vis-à-vis their clients in a growing art market. This course will focus on how artists and architects responded to this radically new order. How did the colour-based tradition of Venetian painters like Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and Veronese adapt to the modern, black-and-white age of mechanical reproduction? How did Palladio and others use printing to spread the language of classical architecture? In addition to lectures and seminars there will be more object-based classes during visits to The Courtauld Gallery Print Room, the National Gallery, the British Museum and the British Library.