Art and revolution: in the long 18th century

Course Dates: 21/02/24 - 27/03/24
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
Location: Keeley Street
From the absolute monarch to the beheaded king, discover how artists contributed to the cultural revolutions of the ‘long 18th century’ (1630s-1800). We explore how shifts in artistic style and subject matter reflected dramatic social change. Through reading the philosophy of the age we uncover how this era’s complex notions of beauty and justice still impact art and society today.
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Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £159.00 Concession £129.00

Course Code: VB149

Wed, day, 21 Feb - 27 Mar '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?

This course follows the philosophical fluctuations of Enlightenment Europe through its visual art. We begin with the Baroque propaganda of absolute monarchies and end with the Romantic art of the Napoleonic era. In between, we focus on the always beautiful, yet wholly subversive Rococo, as well as the revolutionary concepts of Neo-Classicism. We actively consider the impact of other social elements including fashion, aesthetic theory and satire (to mention a few). These developments are addressed thematically through the works of iconic, European masters such as Nicolas Poussin, Mary Beale, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Tiepolo, Chardin, Canaletto, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Jacques Louis David, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Francisco Goya.

The course includes writings by artists, art critics, politicians and philosophers (including Voltaire, Rousseau and Winckelmann) to get a greater sense of the contemporary mindset that shaped the art of this period. This also includes at least two visits to the National Gallery. From its themes, readings and up-close looking at art in galleries, this course aims to build the student’s general, art historical skill set, which can then be applied across various periods and cultures.

What will we cover?

• The (not-so) ‘divine right’ of kings: art, the academy, portraiture and propaganda
• Art theory: what painting is supposed to be, with emphasis on Poussin and Watteau
• From chubby cherubs to scathing satire: the myth of Rococo frivolity, with emphasis on Tiepolo and Chardin
• The grand tour: new concepts of beauty and the picturesque, with emphasis on Canaletto and Reynolds
• Weaponising art: Neo-Classicism and the French Revolution, with emphasis on Vigée Le Brun and David
• Chaos and introspection: Romanticism, with emphasis on Goya.

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

• Explain the impact of the art academy on the career of the artist in 18th century Europe
• Explain how Enlightenment philosophy impacts one or more of the art movements we discuss in the class
• Identify at least one key compositional/iconographical element in each of the major art movements discussed in this course
• Discuss as least one of the major art theoretical concepts related to the art of western Europe in the 18th century.

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 two visits to the National Gallery, during 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 part of a series of in-depth early modern European art history courses at City Lit designed The next course in the series is:

Art and Anxiety from the Enlightenment to the Victorian Age.

Sarah Jaffray Tutor Website

Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. In addition to her current teaching at City Lit, Sarah is a lecturer at the University of Arts London and the Tutor Coordinator for City Lit's Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah's current research is focused on translation and empathy.

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.