Art, the Enlightenment and the World

Ref: C2224499

New ideas were emerging in the eighteenth century, spread by books and travel. Vienna was still a frontier town, but a spate of building showed it open to ideas from across the world. Russia under Peter the Great and then Catherine the Great came into the European orbit. Throughout Europe there was a taste for things Chinese, though not always accurately reflected. Thus we will consider Qing China, its painting and gardens but also the European idea of China in the vogue for Chinoiserie. Japan’s relationship with Europe was troubled at this time, being largely closed to foreigners. Nevertheless it was a culture that had its own momentum in its gardens, paintings and architecture. We will also consider the Levant and attitudes to Islam – long a source of European curiosity.

Course aim

The eighteenth century saw an increase in cultural exchange both within Europe and beyond. This course looks at aspects of this interchange focusing on Europe, Asia and the Levant.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss the growing importance of interaction between Europe and the wider world in terms of the visual arts
  • Show how the Russian monarchy used the arts to identify itself as European
  • Identify the relationship between Chinoiserie and the European interaction with China
  • Describe aspects of the interchange between Europe and the Middle East as reflected in the visual arts

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

Art, the Enlightenment and the World Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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