Whistler to World War One - How art changed

Ref: C2227892

When Whistler settled in Britain in the 1860s his atmospheric paintings shocked Victorian critic Ruskin. Whistler had a new idea of what art was for, and it certainly did not require photograhic-like detail. This three week course examines how British artists from the 1860s to 1914 responded to the challenge of creating new art forms. Artists include Walter Richard Sickert, whose vivid images of London's music halls were influenced by French painter Degas, and the Camden Town group including Harold Gilman, Ethel Sands and Spencer Gore. Focusing particularly on Newlyn, Elizabeth Forbes and Frank Bramley also found new ways to represent the contemporary world. A new style emerged just before WWI, Vorticism, with Jacob Epstein's bold sculpture, and equally fascinating paintings by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. The course ends with Paul Nash, and a new realism as he encountered WW1 at first-hand. The tutor will encourage participation and discussion in this exciting new short course.

Course aim

This course is an introduction to some fascinating British art, beginning with the 1860s. We explore Whistler's exciting new approaches to making art, and turn to Ethel Sands, Spencer Gore, Jacob Epstein, Paul Nash, Elizabeth Forbes, and more.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Recognise some artworks produced by artists in Britain 1860s to c.1914, within the limits of a short course.
  • Understand some of the changes in in British art and the social and artistic contexts 1860s to c.1914, at an introductory level.
  • Enjoy looking at and talking about art.

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?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation

Download full course information sheet

Whistler to World War One - How art changed

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is only available as part of this programme.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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