History of Art

The study of History of Art provides a critical introduction to Western culture and a stimulating insight into the use of images in an increasingly visual world.

How does the form of a Gothic cathedral reflect its function as a place of worship?  Why were ‘six-footer’ landscape paintings such a shock for the Royal Academy?  Can we tell the gender of an artist by studying their work?  History of Art provokes these questions and debates the answers.

We cover the rich tradition of painting, sculpture, drawing, printing, photography, collage and film in an introductory survey. We examine the influence of antiquity in the work of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bramante. We look at styles such as Palladian, Neo-classicism and Gothic Revival and the influence of the Grand Tour on country house architecture. We study art as propaganda, images of death and defeat, and the social impact of war and revolution in the Napoleonic era. We explore the Thematic Topic on the art and architecture of London, which includes contemporary works. The Personal Investigation coursework essay allows students to pursue an individual interest in preparation for university, for example, on bridge construction for Engineering, or on depictions of Ophelia for English Literature.  Written and visual skills are developed and students contribute actively in lessons, with a focus on discussion and debate. History of Art is taught in the Tower Room of the Sixth Form Centre. The course is structured around tutorial group lessons using resources such as the interactive screen, DVDs, and an extensive departmental library.

Students study the subject on its own merits, as an extension to studio-based disciplines such as Art & Design, or to complement History, English or Classics.

Visits to major museums in the UK and abroad to see cultural masterpieces at first hand form an essential and enjoyable part of the course. Recent trips abroad include Paris and Florence. We enjoy regular visits to the National Gallery and Victoria & Albert Museum.  Students enter a range of university competitions to extend their skills in public speaking, documentary film making, and essay writing.