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

mosaic of a large figure of a winged angel in long white robes, striding, half-turned to left, holding a globe in the right and a sceptre in the left hand
Angel from an apsidal mosaic, Church of Kiti, Cyprus, © Robin Cormack
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.


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 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.


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.


Course 24: Dr Sarah James

Photography, Modernism and Modernity in the 20th century


This course will examine the relationship between the European avant-garde, technology and mass culture, by situating artistic production in the context of photography, mechanical reproduction, cinema, advertising, consumerism, and everyday life in the modern metropolis. We shall explore the ways in which photography intersected with painting at the turn of the century, and its role in shaping the most significant artistic movements of the European avant-garde from Futurism, Constructivism and Dada to Surrealism and New Objectivity. We will consider how artists drew on technologies, mass media and popular culture to celebrate modernity and challenge traditional approaches to artistic production, subjective experience, gender norms, and commodity culture. We'll look at photographic culture more broadly, considering photobooks, photo-essays, avant-garde journals, and major photo-exhibitions. The course will end by investigating how the avant-garde’s utopian dreams were violently deformed with the rise of mass politics and the ways in which both Stalinism and Nazism built on and transformed the avant-garde’s vision of technology and mass culture.