Bacchus holds a bowl and grapes. Behind him is a smaller figure who is eating the grapes. They are enclosed by a decorative border, i Hendrick Goltzius, Bacchus, late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, detail, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Autumn Courses online

From Life: Representing Nature in Northern European Art, 1500-1750

Dr Thomas Balfe

10 pre-recorded lectures with 5 live Zoom seminars in the evenings over 5 weeks from Thursday 12 October to Thursday 9 November 2023, with an optional visit on Saturday 11 November 2023
£395 or £445 with visit

This course unravels the interwoven empirical, political and symbolic meanings conveyed by early modern images of nature. Why were lifelike depictions of nature so highly valued by patrons and collectors? And how did artists such as Dürer, Bruegel, Rubens and Rembrandt seek to convey to their audiences the impression that their works were truthful, reliable or made ‘from life’?

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A Hare i Albrecht Dürer, Hare, 1502. The Albertina Museum, Vienna. Image: Wikimedia commons.

Making Sense of
Ideas on Art:

A Course in Art Theory, c.1800-c. 2000

Dr Matthias Vollmer

5 pre-recorded lectures with 5 live Zoom seminars in the evenings over 5 weeks from Wednesday 4 October to Wednesday 1 November 2023

An in-depth look at some of the influential thinkers who have shaped art history, including Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Heinrich Wölfflin, Charles Sanders Pierce, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ernst Gombrich, David Freedberg, T.J. Clark, and Svetlana Alpers.

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A man with his back towards the viewer gazes out at a foggy mountain landscape i Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, c.1817, oil on canvas, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Making Sense of Abstraction: Roots, Context and Meaning

Dr Emily Christensen

5 pre-recorded lectures with 5 live Zoom seminars in the evenings over 5 weeks from Wednesday 13 September to Wednesday 11 October, with an optional visit on Saturday 14 October 2023
£195 or £245 with visit

In spite of its perceived complexity and elitism, abstraction became one of the most dominant expressions of modern art. Ranging across early European manifestations in the work of artists like Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian, to later permutations by American Abstract Expressionists and artists like Ibrahim El-Salahi, this course explores the nature, origins, meanings and reception of this fascinating mode of visual expression.

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Many different, colourful abstract shapes floating against a black and white background. i Wassily Kandinsky, Roter Fleck II, 1921, oil on canvas, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich