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What is the course about?

Each week a group of paintings of a theme will be discussed by the class in front of the pictures. This is an opportunity to understand our national collection in greater depth.


What previous students liked most about this course:

“The tutor knowledge of the subject and explanation of the various periods of art and well known
“It made me look at paintings in a different way and not to make assumptions.”

“I have taken quite a number of courses and would rate this one as or at least among the very best . The tutor was a superb guide to the works we looked at – very knowledgeable but also inclusive of the whole group’s input. Very well organised with accompanying notes – I can now take what I have learnt to other pictures.”

“We have an outstanding tutor who knows his subject in considerable depth and from different facets. Preconceived ideas concerning individual works are challenged and modified through the interactive teaching provided.A portal into significant aspects of art and its history unknown to the general student has been provided.”


What will we cover?

Each week, three or four paintings (which have a particular theme) will be analysed in terms of style, subject matter, context, genre and technique.


What will I achieve?

By the end of this course you should be able to…

  • Identify in appropriate detail and depth, the styles and subject matter of European painting as shown at the National Gallery.
  • Give individual examples of different genres and understand the ideas and other factors which prompted their production.
  • Recognise different painting techniques and why they have been employed, and the practicalities of using various methods.
  • Participate in discussions about the range and limitation of work collected by the National Gallery and state why the collection has grown as it has.


What previous students have achieved on this course:

“A greater understanding of art and symbolism in paintings. I feel I can identify different artists and eras. I have also learned a lot about history! Very inspiring – great lecturer!.”

“I learned to appreciate Renaissance paintings more as well as symbols and iconography.”


What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No Previous knowledge or experience required.

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. You should be able to use numbers and be able to do simple measurements and calculations.


How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

On-site discussions in front of pictures.


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



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

You can benefit from the wide range of art history courses at City Lit.

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