"The object of education is to teach us to love beauty..." - Plato, Republic
History of Art is concerned with the study of European painting, sculpture and architecture from 500BC to 2000AD. The course provides pupils with in-depth knowledge about particular works of art and architecture but also seeks to give pupils the skills and confidence to think and write critically about any works of art that they encounter. The works studied are placed in their cultural and historical contexts so that the ways in which they reflect society can be appreciated.
Studying History of Art enables pupils to acquire an understanding of the principal methods of visual analysis and interpretation and gives them the ability to make their own critical judgements. Pupils will gain an awareness of art historical terms, concepts and issues; so that they will be able to distinguish their contrapposto from their chiaroscuro and Roman from Romanticism.
Above all, we hope that this course will enrich pupils' visual experience of the world around them. There are two annual trips, one to Paris for the LVI and one to Rome for the UVI. There are also numerous day trips to London galleries and to events such as the British Museum Ways of See Conference. The History of Art Society also invites termly speakers to give talks on a wide range of subjects; recent lectures have included Viennese Expressionism, The English Country House, and Francis Bacon.
History of Art combines well with any other humanities subjects and foreign languages. It is particularly useful for those considering History, English, Classics, Modern Foreign Languages, Fine Art, Architecture, Liberal Arts, Law, Philosophy and, of course, History of Art at university. We also find that many pupils taking science subjects benefit from the visual analysis and essay writing skills provided by studying History of Art. It is readily accepted by universities as an academic subject and is considered by Trinity College Cambridge as 'A' rated as preparation for all Art/Humanities degrees.
The AS course aims to give the girls a wide reaching breadth of knowledge about art and architecture, so in the first year pupils study sculpture and architecture from Ancient Greece and Rome up to the Twentieth Century.
Unit 1: Visual Analysis and Interpretation (20% of the A Level)
This paper focuses on how to analyse and interpret works of art and architecture. Pupils are taught the approach and terminology required to assess the formal features of any painting, sculpture or building. The examination involves writing about three previously unseen works by examining various aspects , for example, how form relates to function in architecture, how the use of materials affects the appearance of sculpture, or how figures are depicted in painting.
Unit 2: Themes in History of Art and Architecture (30% of the A Level)
For this paper pupils study key works of art and architecture from a wide variety of countries and time periods. We use these works to consider particular themes such as different styles and genres, historical and social context, the influence of patronage, the depiction of gender, nationality and ethnicity, and the effect of using different materials and techniques. The examination gives pupils a choice of questions that they answer using their choice of the works. Examples of works studied include paintings such as Delacroix's ‘Liberty Leading the People', Manet's ‘Olympia', and Picasso's ‘Les Demoiselles d'Avignon', sculptures such as Michelangelo's ‘David' and Degas' ‘Little Dancer', and buildings such as the ‘Parthenon', ‘Chartres Cathedral' and Frank Lloyd Wright's ‘Fallingwater.
At A2 pupils specialise in the European art and architecture of the 16th and 17th centuries. In doing so, they learn about the Reformation and Counter Reformation, important monarchs such as Charles V, Henry VIII, Cosimo I and Philip IV, and about key historical events such as the Sack of Rome and the Dutch Revolt.
Unit 4: Investigation and Interpretation: Sixteenth Century Europe (25% of the A Level)
This unit focuses on the styles of High Renaissance and Mannerism. Pupils learn about the political, social and religious context of this period by studying a range of painting, sculpture and architecture from across Europe. This includes works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Veronese, Durer, Holbein, Cranach, Bruegel, Giambologna, Cellini, Bronzino, Parmigianino, Bramante and Palladio. The examination takes the form of two essays from a choice of four questions.
Unit 3: Investigation and Interpretation: Seventeenth Century Europe (25% of the A Level)
This unit focuses on the styles of Baroque Realism, High Baroque and Classicism. Pupils will learn about the political, social and religious context of this period by studying a range of painting, sculpture and architecture from across Europe. This includes works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Rubens, Rembrandt, Borromini, Velazquez, Poussin, Claude, Wren, Fernandez, Mansart and Le Vau. The examination takes the form of two essays from a choice of four questions.