British Art and Architecture in London

Course outline

The principal aim of this course is to familiarise 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 course will begin 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.


At the end of this course 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

Assessed component Basic requirements Weighting Deadline
Short essay 1200 words 15% Week 4
Long essay 2500 words 33% Week 10
Oral Presentation In front of a painting in Tate Britain 15% Week 12
Examinatation 2 hour exam 33% Week 14
Presentation Class contribution 4% Week 14

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)