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

The majority of European art until the sixteenth century was in Churches. This lavishly illustrated course begins by looking at the earliest examples of Christian art, and then traces the rise of the Renaissance through paintings and sculpture in churches. Major artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael are at the heart of this part of the course. The disruption to art caused by the Reformation is examined, and we look at how artists coped with the sudden decline in church patronage. The effects of the Reformation and the split between Henry VIIII and the papacy is given special attention. The rise of Baroque as a counter to the Reformation is studied, and we then move on to the Victorians. There was an explosion of religious art in all its forms in nineteenth century England, led by artists such as Pugin and the Pre-Raphaelites, and textiles, stained glass, tiles, and metalwork are all considered, as is the rise in gothic art and architecture. Into the twentieth century we concentrate on art in English Cathedrals, and some of the major artists working in them such as Epstein, Sutherland and Piper. Students are encouraged to ask questions and discuss the content of the course.

of this course.

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