An introduction to the art of seventeenth-century Europe: 1590–1690

Course Dates: 15/01/24 - 25/03/24
Time: 10:30 - 12:30
Location: Online
Often referred to as “the Baroque”, the seventeenth century embraces some of the most dramatic, dynamic and acclaimed artworks ever produced, yet also some of the most tranquil and gentle. We will explore a wide range of paintings and sculptures from this period, discover why they look as they do, and investigate the powerful religious and historical contexts that influenced its artists.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £229.00 Senior fee £183.00 Concession £149.00

Course Code: VB597

Mon, day, 15 Jan - 25 Mar '24

Duration: 10 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

On this course we will examine and discuss the turbulent political, social and religious contexts of art in seventeenth-century Europe and, in doing so, account for the production and style of a wide range of works that were produced in the Protestant north (following the Northern Renaissance) and the Roman Catholic south (following the High Renaissance and Mannerism).

The seventeenth-century is often referred to as the “Baroque” era —originally a derisory term. The art of this period was powerfully affected by political and religious events from the previous century, including the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, as well as by the extensive wars and periods of conflict in the seventeenth century itself.

We will discuss and question its suitability and usefulness the term “Baroque” to describe the style of works produced at this time, and to describe the century as a whole. Arising initially in Italy, the Baroque style evolved significantly as it spread to other countries.

We will investigate the significance of the subject-matter of these paintings and sculptures and also how they were made. We will also discuss the reasons why these works were commissioned, and the role of the Church in patronage. We will look at how and why the art market in the Dutch Republic was significantly different from that of other countries. We will study works from Italy, Spain, the Northern Netherlands (later the Dutch Republic), Southern Netherlands (also referred to as Flanders, and later Belgium), France and England. We will be looking at key works by artists such as Caravaggio, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Murillo, Poussin, Rubens, van Dyck, Vermeer, de Hooch and Rembrandt, along with sculpture by Bernini and Puget and the, less-well known but remarkable, polychromed (painted) wooden sculptures of Spain. In addition we will explore works by many other painters and sculptors, including paintings by significant women artists of the era.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

• the styles of seventeenth-century art and how they arose
• the significance of the subject matter in seventeenth-century art
• how artworks were made during this period
• patronage in the seventeenth century and its effect on the art produced
• the turbulent political, social and religious contexts of art in seventeenth-century Europe.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• List six Baroque characteristics of seventeenth-century paintings and sculpture and be able to identify them on specific examples of works
• Explain the influences of the historical, political and religious contexts in this period on the art that was produced
• Discuss how patronage affected key works produced during this period
• Identify works by at least seven key artists of the seventeenth century and be able to recognise and name at least one work by each.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for all levels.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information as well as basic functions of Zoom, specifically microphone and camera..

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught online with slide presentations and group discussions. Comprehensive handouts will be provided by your tutor via Google Classroom to support your learning on the course; these handouts will be available online/digitally for you to download, but not printed out for you.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You might wish to purchase a notebook or file for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list provided.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might also be interested in:
Art of the Northern Renaissance
Art and Power: from the Counter-Reformation to the Baroque
Velazquez, painter to the king.

Elizabeth Eyres

Liz Keevill Eyres worked as a textile designer in the fashion industry for four years and then as a magazine journalist specializing in interior design for 13 years. Her first degree was at Camberwell School of Art which she did at the same time as completing a degree in History and Art History with the Open University. Liz studied and has taught at Kingston University, where she lead modules and lectured in history of art, design history and architecture for ten years and ran study visits both at home and abroad. Liz has researched into English Modernist textile design of the 1950s and the professional practice of the provincial Edwardian architect, in particular Norwich-based architect George Skipper.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.