WEEK ONE: 14-18 July 2014

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

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: 21-25 July 2014

Course 14: Dr Matthias Vollmer

17th-century Painting in the Low Countries: The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Art


This course is now FULL

As a result of the religious and political conflicts in the sixteenth century, the Low Countries were split into two territories with different theological and social developments. In both states, the production of art was strongly determined by patrons. In Flanders, artists like Rubens and Van Dyck celebrated the Catholic Church of the Counter Reformation and the Spanish Hapsburg monarchy with grandiose themes, lively compositions, and vivid colours in portraits, altarpieces, mythological scenes and allegories. The Protestant Republic of the United Netherlands, on the other hand, was dominated mainly by austere Calvinists. Dutch painters like Rembrandt and Jan Steen conveyed moral and often religious messages through elaborate symbolism in land- and seascapes, still life compositions, allegories and scenes of daily life. This course will offer an introduction into the vibrant art and culture of the separated Low Countries in the seventeenth century. We shall visit the National Gallery, the British Museum and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

WEEK THREE: 28 July - 1 August 2014

Course 18: Dr Susan Jones

Art and Society in Renaissance Bruges


This course is now FULL

This course will consider how objects in a range of media were used, viewed and understood in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Bruges.  Over five days, we will study works of art that illuminate five different but overlapping spheres in the life of this important Netherlandish trade emporium and cultural centre: the town government, the Burgundian court, international trade, the church and privately-funded projects. For each of these areas, we will select objects and related documents which can help us to understand rituals, ideas, values and beliefs that characterized contemporary Bruges society. These will include some of the most splendid and exquisitely-crafted objects of a period in which the love of materials was matched by a growing awareness of  the unique artistic skill of individual  craftsmen: illuminated manuscripts by the Ghent-Bruges school,  the fifteenth-century stained glass windows from the Chapel of the Holy Blood, exquisite enamel silverware from the Burgundian court, and, of course, the sophisticated and technically brilliant panel paintings of Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, Hans Memling and Gerard David.  We will visit the rich collections of objects made in Bruges and Flanders in London collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery and the British Library.

Please note that Dr Jones will also explore the great artistic tradition of Bruges during a Study Tour from 12 – 14 September 2014.  Both Summer School course and Tour are entirely free-standing and one does not require participation in the other. [Further information can be found in the Study Tours section on our website].

Course 24: Dr Matthias Vollmer

The Shadows of the Past: Art in Germany from 1945 to Today


Denouncing avant-garde art movements like Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, New Objectivity and the Bauhaus as ‘degenerate’, the Nazi regime promoted a ‘true German art’ mostly in the tradition of German nineteenth-century realistic painting. After World War II, West German abstract artists such as Willi Baumeister, Ernst Wilhelm Nay and ‘Wols’ sought to come to terms with the traumatic legacy of the country's recent history. Simultaneously, East German artists like Bernhard Heisig and Werner Tübke presented idiosyncratic interpretations of official ‘Socialist Realism’. In both Germanys artists developed distinctive versions of modern and postmodern art - at times in accord with their political cultures, at other times in opposition to them.


Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer were the first to gain an international reputation. Joerg Immendorf and Georg Baselitz brought about a revival of figurative painting and, after his escape to West Germany, Dresden-born Gerhard Richter together with Sigmar Polke introduced the notion of ‘Capitalist Realism’.  We shall also explore the ‘neutral’ views of industrial architectural forms by Bernd and Hilla Becher and the art of Neo Rauch, ‘the painter who came (in) from the cold’. These complex developments will be examined in the context of relevant political and cultural discourses in post-war Germany.