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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 at A Level over a period of two years during which we aim to give an understanding of the painting, sculpture and architecture of the Western world. 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. All they require is intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm.

The first year of study is a broad introduction and covers western art from classical Greece to modern times. Students are taught how to recognise different styles, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque for example, as well as how to critically analyse a work of art with sound judgement. Works of art are also considered thematically and these include the significance of patronage, methods and materials and the interpretation of subject matter.

The second part of the A Level investigates two periods of Art History from the fifteenth century to the present day. We will focus on some of the following: The Florentine Renaissance, The High Renaissance in Rome, Art of the French Revolution, The Impressionist and Post Impressionist Eras, Victorian Narrative Painting and Twentieth Century Movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism amongst other ‘isms’

The History of Art Department has the latest computer equipment with its own bank of thousands of images, which grows by the day. It is situated next to the Library, which we make full use of, and, in collaboration with the Librarian, Sally Bassington, we make sure it is well stocked with current publications, exhibition catalogues in particular, as well as relevant DVDs for the girls to borrow.

Like other subjects at this school, Art History A Level groups are small, usually about seven students in each which is a perfect number to stimulate debate and encourage the students to express their opinions. Many go on to study History of Art at University.

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 a few. Throughout the course we make numerous visits to these permanent collections as well as the ever changing exhibitions. Studying works of art at first hand is a vital part of this subject.

We also have an informal Art History Film club. We watch films directly related to the area of study, Gladiator, for example, when we are studying Roman art and architecture or Girl with a Pearl Earring when we are studying Dutch seventeenth century art. It is held in the Art History room where there is a big screen and a good sound system. The Library owns the DVDs so there is no cost to the girls.

Once a year we visit cities famous for their monuments and collections of art. The most popular are Florence, Rome and Paris. The purpose of these trips is primarily to see the artistic highlights 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.

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