Art and Architecture in 19th Century

Ref: C2224511

We will start by summarising art at the beginning of the century - Turner, Constable and Soane. The Pre-Raphaelites transformed painting in Victoria’s early years. They engaged with contemporary issues but also looked back nostalgically to the middle ages. This pre-occupation was also central to the architecture at this period. We will see why gothic revival became the dominant style. New audiences required subjects that reflected their time and we will discuss narrative painting. We will then consider developments in gothic revival including the fantastic world of William Burges. Classicism doesn’t disappear and painters like Lord Leighton had a new concern for the idea of beauty. The later work of Rossetti and the work of Burne-Jones can be linked to this preoccupation. At the end of the century a number of French influenced painters appeared. In architecture there was the Queen Anne revival and William Morris used diverse sources as inspiration for his designs.

Course aim

This broad survey is aimed to introduce the major themes and developments in art and architecture in the Victorian era, including the Pre-Raphaelites, the Gothic Revival and William Morris.

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:

  • Identify ways in which the Pre-Raphaelites were new in their approach to painting
  • Discuss reasons for the importance of Gothic Revival architecture in the Victorian era
  • Illustrate some of the ways in which painting responded to popular taste
  • Recognise how of Morris’s design responded to the widening sources available
  • Achieve a wider understanding of art and architecture in the nineteenth century England

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
  • You may find it helpful to visit Tate Britain or other collections of paintings of our period such as Leighton House in Kensington.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

Art and Architecture in 19th Century Course Outline


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  • 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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