New: A Social History Of England In 12 Paintings

Each week we will explore the historical setting of a painting with a musical theme. We focus on social changes in dress, dining and leisure activities between 1400 and 1900. Where possible, we will look at the lives of the sitters and how they wished to be remembered.

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary but a good understanding of English is essential

What does this course cover

Each week we will explore one or two paintings ranging over five centuries that can provide an insight into the social history of the period. Works include the following: Music (Justus of Ghent, 1470s); The Music Lesson (attrib Titian, c. 1536); Henry Unton Portrait (Anon, c.1558-96); A Musical Party (Jacob Van Velson, 1631); The Sharp Family (Zoffany, 1779-81) and Music in the Tuilleries Garden (Manet, 1862). There will be two offsite trips to the National and National Portrait Galleries to see the paintings in situ.
By the end of this course you will be able to:
o Discuss the changing nature of art patronage between 1400 and 1900.
o Describe the career and social activities of a Tudor gentlemen by reference to the
Henry Unton portrait
o Recognise how Dutch painting engendered a sense of nationalism and moralising
through the portrayal of everyday life using paintings by Steen and Vermeer
o Explore the history of the Sharp family and their representation on canvas
o Identify social activities such as dining and drinking habits as portrayed in art from
medieval to Victorian times.

What will it be like

Each week we will look at one key painting, using others as comparators, to explore social themes of the period in which the artist lived. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

There will be a trip to the National and Portrait Galleries. Entry is free but Public Transport costs will need to be considered. Each week you are advised to bring note- taking materials.

What this course could lead to

You might consider enrolling on other history of art courses run by the Centre

mwc logo

I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’