Royal Portraits

Ref: C2225080

To show the motivation behind, and the development of, the royal portrait, and their impact on the sitter, the painter and the viewer. Influences from outside, from Burgundy, from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, will be considered, as well as the growing awareness of an English style, from the sixteenth century to the present day. Also considered will be photography, which developed as a complementary form of portrait, and into an artform in its own right. Most of the great portrait painters will come into these studies.

Course aim

To enable the students to be familiar with the image and the purpose of the royal portrait; and to examine the dynamics between the sitter, the painter and the viewer over seven centuries.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • All with an interest in Art and History, particularly royal and imperial history, may find this course amenable to them, with an emphasis on portraiture.

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

  • Trace the development and purpose of the royal portrait from c. 1400 to the present time
  • Estimate the influence and contribution of the portrait, and of painters both domestic and foreign, to the notion of image and propaganda
  • Analyse specific portraits in detail, and show how they are significant in the development of the royal portrait
  • Consider the advent of photography, and how, as a complementary art, it has learned from painting, as painting has learned from photography

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
  • It is hoped also, that, if time and funds permit, a visit can be made to an exhibition which is relevant to this course.

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
  • This is a course where opinion is to be sought and shared. Also, if appropriate, artefacts may be brought in, and reminiscences shared, which may enhance the cohesion of the group.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It is always useful to bring a notebook or pad, or both, and writing and sketching materials, which an individual student may profit from.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Any reminiscences of visits to exhibitions, or any other relevant experience would be very helpful to share with the class

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course outline

Royal Portraits 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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