British Art and Architecture in London

The module familiarises students with the history of British art from the Stuarts to the end of the Georgian era. Teaching will be conducted entirely on sites in London or its immediate vicinity. The module begins with the elite patronage of the Stuart court and end with the development of public institutions of art from the mid-eighteenth century. The social significance of portraiture, the cult of antiquity, the art market and the rise of landscape will all be studied as themes. There will be a strong emphasis on the European sources of British visual culture and the emergence of a distinctive national tradition of painting from Hogarth through to Turner.


Upon completion of this module students will be able to:

  • demonstrate a familiarity with the work of major artists and architects and the movements of which they were a part
  • show a familiarity with the ‘classical language of architecture’ and the vocabulary of orders inherited from Ancient Greece and Rome, through the Italian Renaissance
  • compare and contrast styles of architecture and artistic techniques from different historical periods
  • recognise the work of landmark artists such as Van Dyck, Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Constable or Turner
  • apply this knowledge to their future studies and explorations of architecture and art.

Coursework and assessment

  • Short essay (15% weighting) - 1200 words - Week 4 deadline
  • Long essay (33% weighting) - 2500 words - Week 10 deadline
  • Oral presentation (15% weighting) - In front of a painting at Tate Britain - Week 12 deadline
  • Examination (33% weighting) - 2 hour paper - Week 14 deadline
  • Presentation (4% weighting) - Class contribution - Week 14 deadline

Background reading/Bibliography

  • Barrell, J.: The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt (New Haven and London 1986)
  • Bindman, D.: The History of British Art 1600-1870 (London 2008)
  • Brewer, J.: The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (London 1997)
  • Colley, L.: Britons: Forging a Nation 1707-1837 (London 2003)
  • Colvin, H.: A Biographical Dictionary of English Architects 1600-1840 (London 1978)
  • Fleming, J., H. Honour & N. Pevsner: Dictionary of Architecture (Harmondsworth 1991)
  • Humphries, R.: The Tate Britain Companion to British Art (London 2001)
  • Pevsner, N.: The Englishness of English Art (London 1956, many editions)
  • Reynolds, J.: Discourses on Art, ed. R. Walk (New Haven and London 1975)
  • Solkin, D.: Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven and London 1993)
  • Summerson, J.: Architecture in Britain 1530-1830 (Harmondsworth 1977, many editions)
  • Summerson, J.: The Classical Language of Architecture (London 1980, many editions)
  • Summerson, J.: Georgian London (London 1991)
  • Tavernor, R. Palladio and Palladianism (London 1991)
  • Vaughan, W.: British Painting: The Golden Age (London 1999)
  • Waterhouse, E.: Painting in Britain 1530-1790 (New Haven & London 1994)
  • Watkin, D.: English Architecture (London 1992)
  • Worsley, G.: Classical Architecture in Britain (New Haven and London 1995)