Art, the Enlightenment and the World

Ref: C2224506

In this course we will start by looking at India, a place that became important to Europe, and particularly to Britain, in the eighteenth century. But India already had a thriving visual tradition. How did European artists react to this – and how did Indian artists relate to the Europeans? In what ways did local princes and company servants use art and architecture to express their relations with one another? There is a quite different story to tell about America where Europeans had been settled for a century and had imported European culture with them. But there was real interest in the original inhabitants who seemed to embody the idea of the noble savage. More despicably there was also a new population forcibly introduced into America – captive Africans taken there as slaves. How did Europeans see them? And how did they regard Africa itself? Finally we will look at the discovery of the South Pacific and how it was understood and portrayed by artists such as William Hodges.

Course aim

This course explores the relationship in the visual arts between Europe, particularly Britain with India, the Americas and the newly discovered Pacific cultures.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • 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 the eighteenth century
  • Identify the ways in which Indian and European painting and architecture interacted, and the ways they didn’t
  • Recognise how European ideas of the noble savage influenced ideas of the native Americans and Pacific peoples
  • Select and describe examples of works of art that reflected encounters with non-European cultures

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
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

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 information sheet

Art, the Enlightenment and the World


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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