Art and melancholy: from the Enlightenment to the Victorian age

Course Dates: 17/04/24 - 22/05/24
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
Location: Keeley Street
Study the art of the period from c.1750-1880 considering Romanticism and the Pre-Raphaelites. We look at ‘romantic’ landscape, the modern moral subject and the depiction of women. Explore the art of women artists who struggled to survive as artists in the tightly controlled world of the art academy where the woman was encouraged to be muse and model rather than creator and thinker.
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Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £159.00 Concession £129.00

Course Code: VB152

Wed, day, 17 Apr - 22 May '24

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 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?

Over the course of six art history sessions we will look at the exciting, luscious and romantic art movements of Romanticism and the first so-called British school of painting the Pre-Raphaelites which drew on inspiration not only from the natural world and new ways of painting, but ancient and contemporary literature such as medieval chivalric literature, Shakespeare and the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. These art movements coincided with a time of increased commercialism and capitalism in Europe with the advent of a new class – the bourgeoisie; industry and urbanisation and the growth of town and population.

We will look at the depiction of women by Pre-Raphaelite artists who saw them as rather fey, languid, passive creatures, there merely to arouse sensuality and a sense of beauty. We will look at female artists of the period who have been largely neglected and forgotten and consider how they had to struggle as artists in a controlled gendered world where traditionally the art academies and salons were ruled by men.

As this is a text-based course, we will analyse a range of art historical methods including recent theoretical frameworks that are germane to the images we are considering, including the role in the scholarship of women and art and gender that started to emerge in the late 19th century with writers such as John Ruskin and Anna Jamieson. This course also includes at least one visit to the National Gallery.

What will we cover?

• Romanticism – the paintings of artists such as Turner, Courbet and Friedrich
• The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood – brothers and sisters in paint and the depiction of the natural world in a new form of ultra-realism and different ways in which to paint women
• The discovery of the female artist and her place in a gendered art world
• The place of the art academy, artistic training and what and how to paint.

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

• Identify key artists and works of art of Romanticism and Pre-Raphaelitism
• Critically read and analyse texts that relate to the aesthetics of Romanticism and the place of women in art and the role of art education in the 19th century
• Start to develop informed views on the role of gender as a critical enquiry in the history of art through textual reading and discussion.

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.

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

You will be taught by lecture with slide images and you will be invited to participate in group discussion. There will be homework in this course, in the form of reading. Handouts will be available digitally via a Google Classroom. You will be invited to join the Google Classroom within a week of your course start date.

This course includes at least one visit to the National Gallery, during one of the course sessions. You will need to transport yourself to the National Gallery during the class session. Further information on this visit will be explained when the course begins.

Please note: Museum/gallery-based sessions take place during public access hours. Tutors are not able to control sound levels or behaviours of visitors outside of the course group. Unless you are a wheelchair user, and have confirmed access details with us (as levels of access can vary between galleries), you will need to be able to walk between exhibits and stand for some time while looking at them (you may bring your own portable stool if you have one, but we cannot guarantee access to any gallery stools.) If you feel you may be impacted by these environmental variations, please inform the department on before the course begins, to discuss reasonable accommodations we can make to assist your learning in the museum space.

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

You might wish to purchase a notebook 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?

This course is the final part of a series of courses on early modern European art history. Although the courses can be taken stand-alone, to further your art historical practice, we suggest you follow the series of courses.

Art and identity: from the High Renaissance to the Reformation
Art and power: from the Counter Reformation to the Baroque
Art and Empire: in the Early Modern Era
Art and Revolution: in the long 18th century.

Emma Rose Barber

Emma Rose Barber is an art historian who has been teaching adults for over 25 years. She specialises in the visual culture of the Middle Ages and the Italian and Northern Renaissance. She has also taught classes on British art and has designed many different courses such as Last Suppers in Florence and Bosch, Breughel and the Surrealists. She has also given lectures on Women and Art. She used to run the history of art department at the British Institute in Florence and works for many institutions such as the Open University, Morley College and the department of continuing education at the University of Oxford. Her book – 111 Churches that you Shouldn’t Miss in London - is coming out in the autumn of 2020. She has spent the last five years with a Mini A-Z looking for churches to write about, many of which can be found on her blog – She is also writing a Cultural History of Wayfaring and writes articles for Selvedge Magazine.

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.