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History of Art

History of Art

The study of History of Art is never-ending and is a constant delight because it involves looking at, and thinking about, the splendid creations of the human imagination.

History of Art is taught over a period of two years during which we aim to give an understanding of the painting, sculpture and architecture of the Western world and beyond. We encourage students to develop their critical and analytical skills and learn how to set the works of art in the historical context in which they were created. No previous knowledge is required to take this subject; the student needs only intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm.

For those starting the subject in September 2017 we will be following the Cambridge Pre U course.  This course offers an invaluable opportunity to study some of the greatest works of art and architecture and to acquire a broad knowledge of different civilisations, from which a life-long love of the subject often springs. There are four areas of study. The first allows students to gain an in-depth knowledge and analytical understanding of thirty works of art and architecture.  The second focuses on masterpieces from two historical periods, for example the Italian Renaissance and 19th century France.  This section of the course considers determining factors such as the role of the patron in the production or a work, the use of different materials and how they affect the appearance of a work, the evidence of the gender of an artist in the work or the development of technology over time.  For the third section, which is thematic, we will study portraiture as this theme embraces so many aspects of history and the people who have made it. The fourth and final section comprises of a personal investigation, culminating in a 3,000 word essay and oral presentation on an aspect of art and art history chosen by the student. 

The History of Art Department has the latest computer equipment and its own bank of thousands of images, which grows by the day. The History of Art Room is situated next to the Library, of which we make full use: in collaboration with the Librarian, Lucy Ivison, we make sure it is always well stocked with current publications, including exhibition catalogues.

As with other A-level subjects at Francis Holland, Art History groups are small, typically comprising about seven students (with a maximum of twelve). The small size of the classes is an important factor in stimulating debate and encouraging all students to express their opinions. 

Staff

Sarah Carr-Gomm MA, the Head of Department, has taught History of Art since leaving university. She founded the educational company Art History Abroad and she has published several books and articles on a wide variety of art historical subjects.

 

Beyond the Classroom

Francis Holland School is happily situated near many of the splendid museums in London: the National Gallery, Victorian and Albert Museum, Tate Britain to name but three. Throughout the course we make numerous visits to permanent collections such as these, as well as to the ever changing exhibitions across London. Studying works of art at first hand is a vital part of this subject.

We run an informal Art History Film club. We watch films directly related to the area of study, such as ‘Gladiator’ when we are studying Roman art and architecture or ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ when we are studying Dutch 17th  century art. It is held in the Art History room where there is a big screen and a good sound system. 

Once a year we visit cities famous for their monuments and collections of art. The most popular destinations are Florence, Rome and Paris. The purpose of these trips is primarily to see the artistic highlights which these cities have to offer but they are also to demonstrate how, with a love for this subject, there is always something of interest to do or see just a few steps away. 

 

Next Steps

Many of our students gain a real love for the subject through the interactive nature of our lessons and the opportunity to see and reflect on art at first hand at home and abroad.  Many students go on to study History of Art at University, including at post-graduate level. 

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