Focus on: iconography

Course Dates: 16/03/25 - 23/03/25
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online
Ever wondered whether there’s a hidden meaning behind paintings? Discover why there are signs and symbols in paintings and how to find and interpret their meanings in medieval and Renaissance art.
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 £69.00 Senior fee £55.00 Concession £45.00

Focus on: iconography
  • Course Code: VB313
  • Dates: 16/03/25 - 23/03/25
  • Time: 10:30 - 13:00
  • Taught: Sun, Daytime
  • Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
  • Location: Online
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo

Course Code: VB313

Sun, day, 16 Mar - 23 Mar '25

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

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

What is the course about?

This short course is an introduction to the iconographic language used in Medieval, Renaissance and Old Master paintings; the symbols and compositional devices used to convey particular messages within these paintings to the audience of the day. An apple here, a peacock there; these objects communicate messages which are now misunderstood by modern audiences, but what did they mean to their contemporary viewers?

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?

• How to identify the most commonly illustrated saints in Christian iconography
• Key compositional formats in Christian art, such as adorations, annunciations, assumptions, and transfigurations
• The secular iconography of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses.

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

• Be able to identify at least 3 saints by their attributes
• Describe three Christian compositional formats
• Be able to identify at least 3 classical gods or goddesses by their attributes.

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 by lecture with slide images and you will be invited to participate in group discussion. There will be handouts provided by your tutor; these 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.

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

You might wish to bring a notebook. 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?

Hell, Heaven and Purgatory in the Middle Ages 800-1500
The art of the Burgundian Netherlands c.1360-1480
Study Trip: glories of the Florentine Renaissance.

Leslie Primo

Leslie Primo has spent more than 15 years giving lectures to the general public at the National Gallery for the Information and Education departments. During this time he graduated with a degree in History of Art and an MA in Renaissance Studies from Birkbeck, University College of London. In his studies he specialised in early Medieval and Renaissance studies, including, Italian Renaissance Drawing, Art and Architecture in Europe 1250-1400 Art and Architecture in Europe 1400-1500, Medici and Patronage, Narrative Painting in the Age of Giotto, and the work of Peter Paul Rubens focusing on his paintings of the Judgement of Paris, and Greek Myth in paintings. He is also an accredited Art Society lecturer.

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.