Course overview

The Church has historically been a major patron of the arts, and all major artists have works in church buildings around Europe. From Saxon wall paintings and lavish medieval alter pieces, to contemporary installations in Cathedrals, this course looks at the variety of art commissioned by the Church, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling to Victorian church textiles. We discuss where good examples can be seen in this country, including stained glass and sculpture. The way in which art in Churches has reflected the major art history developments is at the core of this course.

Course description

Church buildings are important places to see art, and this area provides many excellent examples, Beginning with some of the art dating from the earliest years of Christianity, this extensively illustrated study day with WEA tutor David Brindley traces the history of art in Europe through the works which we find in Churches. Some important Saxon Churches are found in Hampshire, and we look at their distinctive architecture, and the wall paintings which they contain. The distinctive Norman style, especially the astonishing stone work, leads us on to Gothic and the soaring heights of such buildings as Salisbury Cathedral. These buildings are the backdrop for beautiful stained glass and wood carvings such as misericords. The flowering of Renaissance art fills Europe’s churches - the frescos of Giotto and Fra Angelico, the glories of the Sistine Chapel and Leonardo’s last Supper all receive attention. The counter-Reformation styles such as Baroque bring us to the art of Caravaggio and Reubens, and we move into the nineteenth century to consider textiles and metalwork in English Churches. Arriving in the twentieth century we examine some of the art commissioned by cathedrals such as Coventy and Chichester.

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