What is the course about?
On this course you will explore what saints are, why they are represented in art and what meaning this brings to the work. You will learn how to recognise important saints and consider their roles and functions in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, sculptures and mosaics. You will discover the attributes that identify them, their associated legends, the stories of their martyrdoms and the symbolically enriched visual narratives representing their lives and deaths in art.
We will look at some well-known saints such as St George, St John the Baptist and St Mary Magdalene, and some more unusual ones such as St Erasmus, St Margaret of Antioch and St Serapion. We will also consider key subjects in art that include saints, such as the Betrothal of the Virgin, the Visitation, the Depositon and the Lamentation. Artists and sculptors we will look at will include Giovanni Bellini, Bernini, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Donatello, Dürer, Jan van Eyck, Giotto, Grünewald, Georges de La Tour, Masaccio, Memling, Murillo, Piero della Francesca, Poussin, Raphael, Rubens, Tintoretto, Titian, Uccello, Velázquez, Rogier van der Weyden and Zurbarán. On the last day of the course we will be at the National Gallery consolidating what we have learned in front of actual artworks.
What will we cover?
• You will learn how to recognise important saints in art by their clothing, symbols and attributes
• You will study the associated legends and stories of popular saints and their roles and functions in art
• You will learn the meanings that saints bring to paintings and sculpture.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Confidently identify at least six saints through their attributes and/or symbols, including St George, St Jerome, St John the Baptist, St Mary Magdalene, St Peter and St Sebastian
- Recount at least three stories and legends associated with popular saints in art, including St Christopher, St Paul and St Veronica
- Discuss the roles of saints in art.
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, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The first part of this course will be taught onsite with slide presentations and group discussions. The last day of the course will be a guided gallery visit, with group discussion and short group activities. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course.
Please note we are unable to guarantee stools in the rooms that we visit so you might have to stand and to walk between objects.
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.
Gallery entry is free.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
VB462 - Classical art, myths and legends
VB447 - Gods and heroes from Classical to Renaissance art
VB129 - Iconography and iconology: secrets of the old masters revealed.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details