i Jan van Eyck, Madonna of Chancellor Rolin, c. 1435. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Image: Wikimedia

NEWLY ADDED – 33 – Van Eyck at the Burgundian court


ONLINE – Wednesday and Thursday evenings over 3 weeks, Wednesday 13 July – Thursday 28 July, 19:00-c.20:15/30 [London]
Dr Richard Williams

The paintings of Jan van Eyck and his contemporaries in the fifteenth-century Netherlands are examined in this course in their wider context and from fresh perspectives. These works have been admired for defining a revolutionary new approach to painting but they should also be understood within the material culture of their time. They were commodities within the market for luxury goods which exported to the whole of Europe. They could act as agents of social and political meaning while also functioning as a focus for religious devotion and the liturgical celebration of the Church. In this course painting will be reconnected with tapestry, goldsmiths’ work, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts and other material objects from the period. Once characterised by scholars as the last gasp in a ‘waning of the Middle Ages’, the court of the dukes of Burgundy has been recast as an innovative and flourishing cultural environment. The paintings of Van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden and others offer a brilliant glimpse into this extraordinary historical moment.


Lecturer’s biography

Dr Richard Williams completed his doctorate at The Courtauld and was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by Yale University. Following this he was a specialist in Northern Renaissance art in the art history department at Birkbeck, University of London. More recently he has been appointed Learning Curator at the Royal Collection and is based at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. His published research focusses on art in England and other regions of Northern Europe in the sixteenth century.


Course delivery

With our tutors, and based on feedback from our students, we have created a straightforward online learning mode that is user-friendly, and has been very positively received.

The delivery of ten pre-recorded lectures four weeks before the start of live Zoom sessions gives students ample opportunity to watch the course content in their own time and at a pace that suits them.

Extensive course reading and handout materials on the VLE, and suggestions for further self-directed study allow participants to immerse themselves in the topic at hand before the start of the live elements of the course, and after the course finishes.

There is a social ‘icebreaker’ session normally before the first Zoom seminar and opportunities for additional communication with fellow students and your tutor(s) on two VLE forums. Live Zoom seminars, held as indicated in the course timetable below, are strongly object-focused and are structured to build on the learning outcomes of the pre-recorded lectures.  Student numbers are kept low to facilitate conversation.

Course timetable

Wednesday 13 July, 19:00-19:45/20:00 Ice-breaker
Thursday 14 July, 19:00-20:15/30 Zoom seminar (live), discussion of lectures 1 and 2 (pre-recorded)
Wednesday 20 July, 19:00-20:15/30 Zoom seminar (live), discussion of lectures 3 and 4 (pre-recorded)
Thursday 21 July, 19:00-20:15/30 Zoom seminar (live), discussion of lectures 5 and 6 (pre-recorded)
Wednesday 27 July, 19:00-20:15/30 Zoom seminar (live), discussion of lectures 7 and 8 (pre-recorded)
Thursday 28 July, 19:00-20:15/30 Zoom seminar (live), discussion of lectures 9 and 10 (pre-recorded)