Art and power: from the Counter-Reformation to the Baroque

Course Dates: 08/11/23 - 06/12/23
Time: 10:30 - 13:30
Location: Keeley Street
Discover how artists documented and (many times) defined the political and religious revolutions of 17th century Europe. From Caravaggio to Velázquez, Rubens and Gentileschi we trace the artist’s cultural impact while also studying the development of artistic independence through readings on art theory and the art market.
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Full fee £179.00 Senior fee £143.00 Concession £116.00

This course has now finished

Art and power: from the Counter-Reformation to the Baroque
This course has finished
  • Course Code: VB147
  • Dates: 08/11/23 - 06/12/23
  • Time: 10:30 - 13:30
  • Taught: Wed, Daytime
  • Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Sarah Jaffray

Course Code: VB147

Finished Wed, day, 08 Nov - 06 Dec '23

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 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 art history course traces the dramatic art and turbulent politics of the Baroque era (late 16th and 17th century in western Europe). We begin with the fall of the Catholic Church and chart the rise of the modern nation-state and the absolute monarchy, focusing on the artists who contributed to the political and philosophical dynamics of this era. We will also consider the emergence of the art market and how it strengthened the social influence of the artist. These developments are addressed thematically through the works of iconic, European masters such as Michelangelo, Veronese, Peter Paul Rubens, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Judith Leyster, Diego Velázquez and Artemisia Gentileschi.

The course includes writings by artists, philosophers and politicians to get a greater sense of the contemporary mindset that shaped the art of this period. The course also includes at least two, in-class visits to the National Gallery.

From its themes, readings and close reading of artworks in the gallery, 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 Counter-Reformation: censorship, punishment and a new artistic doctrine, with emphasis on Michelangelo, Veronese and Caravaggio
• Patronage: who pays for the art and why that is so important
• The Art Market: the economic value and social worth of the artist’s work, with emphasis on Rubens
• Art theory and the ‘philosophy of painting’, with emphasis on Diego Velázquez
• Artistic power: the political and cultural need for art and the artist.

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

• Discuss how the Counter-Reformation transforms visual art in Europe, using at least one artwork as evidence
• Explain the importance of a patron and at least two ways in which they impact the creation/reception of a work of art
• Identify compositional elements and/or iconography in art commissioned by the Catholic Church in the Baroque
• Discuss as least one of the major art theoretical concepts related to the art of western Europe in the 17th 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 and close looking at artworks online. 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 visits to the National Gallery, during at least 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 given out in class.

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

This course is part of a series of in-depth art ideas courses on early modern Europe. The following are the remaining courses in the series:
Art and Empire: in the Early Modern Era
Art and Revolution: in the long 18th century
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.