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 Europos in modern Syria and fascinating late antique cities, including 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 behind-the-scenes session at the British Library.


Course 2: Dr Rose Walker

The Road to Compostela


The fee for this course is £475 to include the cost of travelling to Ely

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 and sculpture at sites along the roads in France and Spain. We will examine the idea of a ‘pilgrimage church’ in relation to Santiago de Compostela, Sainte-Foy-de-Conques, and St Sernin-de-Toulouse. How did processions and liturgy use cloisters like Moissac and Santo Domingo de Silos? How did reliquaries, above all the mesmeric image of Sainte-Foy at Conques, embody a relationship with their community and with pilgrims?  In London we will visit the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Library. The course will also consider England’s fascination with Santiago de Compostela over the centuries and pilgrimage in England through a visit to Ely Cathedral, where we will be accompanied by the distinguished scholar of medieval architecture, Professor Paul Crossley.

NB You may also be interested in Dr Walker’s and Professor Rocío Sánchez Ameijeiras’ Study Tour to Santiago de Compostela from 11-13 October. 

Both course and tour are, however, entirely freestanding events and attendance at one does not require attendance at the other.


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.


Course 4: Dr Ayla Lepine

Art and Architecture in Victorian London from the ‘Battle of the Styles’ to ‘Art for Art’s Sake’


Victorian art and architecture had an immense impact on London, leaving us with such diverse structures, collections and art movements as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Red House, Leighton House and the Aesthetic Movement, St Pancras Station, Goldsmiths’ Hall, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Houses of Parliament and the Albert Memorial.  Examining all of these legacies closely, this course will encourage students to look afresh at nineteenth-century taste and innovation, and question to what extent Victorian art and architecture relied on old traditions to convey modern values. Both in the classroom and in a series of visits to London buildings and art collections, students will consider different approaches to this important period in British history.

Students will have unique opportunities to engage first-hand with the forms and functions of buildings and objects, using collections held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain and the RIBA to gain in-depth understanding of nineteenth-century art and ideas. Decorative arts, interior design, fashion and the popular press will also be taken into account. By looking closely and applying an array of art historical methodologies, we will engage with fundamental ideas about beauty, labour and commerce when London was at the centre of the world’s largest empire.

If you would like to pursue your interest in Victorian art and architecture further, you may also be interested in our Study Tour to Victorian Oxford, conducted by Dr Carol Jacobi from 7-8 September.


Course 5: Professor Deanna Petherbridge

Lines of Sight and Invention: Techniques, Practices and Uses of Western Drawing across the Centuries

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


We regret that due to circumstances beyond our control this course had to be cancelled.

detail of close up of woman's head in profile red chalk
Beni Ferenczy, Female Head, detail, red chalk, The Courtauld Gallery, London
This course will introduce participants to the ranges of drawing that stretch from rough preliminary sketches to completed visualisations for work in other media. It includes a practical session during which participants will explore the possibilities of different drawing materials and techniques. We will investigate how drawing is the most direct means for observing the world around us or can be an analytical medium for understanding the movement and expressiveness of bodies, the structures of buildings or the salient lines of landscape. And there will be opportunities to think about how lines and marks operate on the page, how they determine expression, render thought into image or reveal ‘the hand’ of the artist.

London is home to an unprecedented range of drawing cabinets and participants will have the chance to view drawings by designers and architects as well as artists; to get very close to the finest examples of historical drawing and visit a drawing studio where an artist caricatures everyday life with wit and economy.  It is hoped that at the end of the course students will be familiar with some major concepts about drawing practice and its theories.

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.


Course 7: Dr Natalia Murray

Russian Art 1863-1932: Innovations, Influences and the Roots of Modernity


This course examines the history of Russian art in all its diversity from the first artists’ rebellion against St. Petersburg’s almighty Art Academy in 1863, the blossoming of arts in Russia’s ‘Silver Age’, to the upsurge of avant-garde art and its subsequent disappearance after 1932, when Socialist Realism became the only artistic style permitted in the Soviet Union. We will look at the cultural as well as geographical boundaries of Russian art, and its contact with developments in European art  as well as the shifts of cultural context, which often occurred through emigration, cultural export, exhibitions, publications, and collaborations.  The complex nature of the Russian avant-garde, its origins and roots, will be examined throughout the course. We will also look at traditional Russian art and icons and their influence on the Russian avant-garde, and will discuss the works of Repin, Serov, Benois, Bakst, Somov, Vrubel, Malevich, Tatlin, Kandinsky, Filonov, Rodchenko, Chagall, Popova, and others.  Lastly, we will examine the influence of political changes in Russia under Stalin on the development of Russian art. Visits include the Victoria and Albert Museum (Ballets Russes drawings and stage designs); the Naum Gabo archive at Tate Britain; the British Museum, and The Courtauld Gallery.




Course 8: Dr Richard Cork

Making it New: Modernism in the Early 20th Century


With seismic explosiveness, young artists across Europe changed the course of painting and sculpture soon after the new century began. A series of revolutionary movements erupted, beginning with Fauvism in France and Expressionism in Germany. The Italian Futurists were the most clamorous but the Cubists in Paris proved the most far-reaching. Then, in 1914, London was shocked by the advent of Vorticism and its rumbustious magazine BLAST. This course explores the rebellious momentum of an exciting period. However, it terminates in the tragedy of the First World War when many avant-garde artists found themselves caught up in a blood-bath. Visits include The Courtauld Gallery’s display of twentieth-century art, Tate Modern, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art and the Imperial War Museum.