WEEK TWO: 15 - 19 July 2013

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.

Course 12: Dr Paula Henderson

Shakespeare’s London: Art, Architecture and Places of Pleasure



William Shakespeare lived in London during the decades before and after the turn of the seventeenth century, a ‘golden age’ for the city. While London had become overcrowded, increasingly squalid and plague-ridden, it was also the epicentre of wealth, opportunity and fashion. Courtiers and aristocrats, aware of the benefits of royal patronage and the amusements of the metropolis, acquired grand mansions, which they complemented with fine gardens and orchards.  Although very little survives, we will create a vivid picture of the ‘flower of Cities all’ by analysing the earliest maps of the city, portraiture, decorative arts and costume, architecture and finally the larger urban landscape. We will also consider the many ‘places of pleasure’ that were enjoyed by Londoners from all strata of society:  sporting grounds, the theatres visited by an estimated 15,000 Londoners each week, the arenas used for the brutal spectacles of cock-fighting, bear- and bull-baiting, and, finally, the public spaces that were so rapidly being swallowed up by development. Visits will include the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Banqueting House, Whitehall, the Inns of Court and the British Library.

You may also be interested to know that Dr Henderson will conduct a new Study Tour to the landscapes of the Cotswolds from 7-9 June.

Course 13: Timothy Wilcox

The Art of Light and Atmosphere: Watercolour Painting in England and Beyond


Watercolour is a medium that achieves an astonishingly wide range of effects and appeals to the professional and amateur artist alike. Rather than thinking of English watercolour painting in artistic isolation and focusing largely on the medium’s technical aspects, we will reconnect it to contemporary contexts of drawing, painting, printmaking and writing. Watercolour painting was of significance to a variety of social and cultural practices, including gardening, travel and tourism, patronage, the rise of art exhibitions and the role of artists’ societies. We will study these rich and varied contexts in conjunction with major works by outstanding English artists, including Paul Sandby, Francis Towne, John Robert Cozens, Thomas Girtin, John Sell Cotman, JMW Turner and Samuel Palmer.  The final day will counter the conventional idea that watercolour painting is a particularly English phenomenon by considering watercolour traditions in Scotland, in Continental Europe and in the USA, and will conclude with a session on the international status of watercolour in the modern era.

Course 14: Gail Turner

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


This course is an introduction to the extraordinary wealth and variety of the arts in Spain - from the post-Islamic sixteenth 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 seventeenth century. Spain led the Counter Reformation against Protestantism and the Spanish Church commissioned vast numbers of religious images during the late sixteenth and seventeenth 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 Print Room. 


WEEK THREE: 22 - 26 July 2013

Course 19: Dr Miriam Di Penta

‘The Marvel of the World’: Art and Politics in Baroque Rome



Around 1595 two young, ambitious artists moved to Rome from their native cities of Bologna and Milan: Annibale Carracci and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Thanks to the patronage of Cardinals, Popes and secular aristocrats, these painters and their pupils would lay the foundations of a new pictorial language. Their individual and opposing classical and naturalist styles, blended with the vital Colorismo of Rubens’ altarpieces of 1608 for the Chiesa Nuova, provided the Catholic Church with a highly effective new instrument of Counter-Reformation propaganda: the glorious art of the Roman Baroque. The course will look at its development from the papacy of Paul V to the triumphs of the Barberini and Chigi pontificates and beyond, with an in-depth analysis of the works of Caravaggio and his circle, the Carraccis, Bernini, Borromini, and Poussin, among others. We will also consider the politics of vision, and the shifting relationship between art, power and tradition. We will discuss the development of art collecting, art criticism and the art market and how the revolutions in philosophy, science and poetry influenced art and society at large. Visits include the National Gallery, Apsley House, the Wallace collection, Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Baroque galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Course 20: Dr Lucy Jessop

‘The Impossibility of Being Dull’: Architecture in London, 1715-1820


When Charles Lamb wrote to Wordsworth in 1801 of his beloved London, he was thinking of a city seething with life and variety, a setting for the lives of people of every class. During the eighteenth century, London established itself as not only the heart of the new Great Britain but also of a growing empire, and as a centre of international trade. This course will consider the building boom experienced by the city in the long eighteenth century: the vast speculative estates around the West End, Bloomsbury and their successors, the growing number of government and public buildings, the magnificent houses of the aristocracy and plutocracy in both urban and suburban London, and places of entertainment, business and worship. We will examine the development of key building types, areas and individual structures, whilst also considering the milieu of the architects and craftsmen who constructed them and the people who used them. Visits may include several walking tours, Kenwood House, the drawings collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum and, of course, an exploration of The Courtauld’s home, Somerset House.


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.


Course 23: Dr Christian Weikop

German Romanticism to Expressionism: From the Nazarenes to the Brücke


This course examines the artistic quest for the origins of Germanic identity, and the romantic-idealist roots of early Expressionism.  Goethe’s essay ‘On German Architecture’ (1772) is our starting point, and we will discuss how his interest in the idea of a Gothic German identity reverberated in the art of the long nineteenth century, from the Nazarenes to the Brücke group. We will consider the ideals of the German Romantic movement, from early organic theories of art to an ‘aesthetics of inwardness’, which might be what unites the work of artists as diverse as Philip Otto Runge and Franz Marc. The course will cover a wide range of subject matter: from the forest cult in works by artists like Caspar David Friedrich and Ludwig Richter, to the anti-urban ‘back-to-nature’ tradition as seen in the art of Wilhelm Leibl and Paula Modersohn-Becker, and the expressions of a ‘free body culture’ in the Symbolist canvases of artists like Hugo Höppener. We will also investigate the Romantic cult of Albrecht Dürer as ‘the’ German master par excellence, and his influence on both nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German artists. This course includes visits to the print rooms of the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


WEEK FOUR: 29 July - 2 August 2013

Course 28: 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 (‘masques’) 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. We 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 masques were performed and where Rubens’ great painted ceiling survives in its original location.