7 – NEW – Re-Imagining the Everyday: Genre Paintings and Prints in Sixteenth- to Eighteenth-Century Europe

On campus

Course  7 – Summer School on campus

Monday 24 – Friday 28 June 2024
Dr Sheila McTighe

Course description

The secular subject matter we now call ‘genre’ imagery grew steadily in popularity through the early modern period across Europe. From depictions of peasants at work or play to the erotic intrigues of the aristocracy, genre imagery explores the full range of human behaviours, sometimes imagined, and sometimes rooted firmly in real life. We shall investigate this subject matter and the artistic practices of naturalism or realism with which it was often allied in works by artists like Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Sofonisba Anguissola, Caravaggio, Jacques Callot, Diego Velazquez, Georges de La Tour, Judith Leyster, Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Antoine Watteau, and Jean-Siméon Chardin.

In contemporary writings about art, genre painting was often decried as unworthy of an ambitious artist. However, primary sources show that such art was highly sought after, whether by elite patrons commissioning paintings or by ‘middling’ people buying images made for the marketplace. Printed images were a constant source of new subjects drawn from modern life, while prints reproducing paintings further expanded the range of genre art and reached a wide audience. Among other, we shall discuss what the functions of everyday imagery might have been for such a diverse body of people. Classroom sessions will be complemented by visits to London’s rich collections of paintings and prints.

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Lecturer’s biography

Dr Sheila McTighe has written and lectured extensively about early modern art. She is an independent art historian based in London, researching and writing about paintings and prints, including the works of Nicolas Poussin, Caravaggio, Sofonisba Anguissola, Giovanna Garzoni, Annibale Carracci and Jacques Callot. Her interests focus on the study of seventeenth-century naturalism and the depiction of everyday life in Southern Europe, particularly in the medium of print, and the movements of artists and printmakers between Italy, France and England. She has taught in the US, at Cornell and Columbia University, and from 1998-2020 at The Courtauld where she trained a long line of outstanding research students.  Her most recent book is Representing from Life in Seventeenth-century Italy (2020). Work in progress also includes the translation of Poussin’s letters, which are one of the most important sources for early modern art, but which have never been translated into English.