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History of Art
Visiting students should have at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. ** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
The course will consider the work of the leading Netherlandish painters of the fifteenth century, in particular the Van Eyck brothers, Robert Campin, Petrus Christus, Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling and Bosch.It aims to introduce students to the principal surviving paintings of the period and the main issues art historians have addressed in relation to their study. The work of Jan van Eyck (d. 1441), his contemporaries and followers, is distinguished by an extraordinary attention to detailed naturalism of the most microscopic kind, unprecedented in the history of Western painting, and rarely employed by artists in subsequent periods. The rapid rise of this detailed naturalism is an artistic phenomenon that presents those who study it with many problems of historical interpretation. To what extent can these paintings be understood as reflections of the world as viewed by their artists directly from life? Or are they essentially works of the imagination, contrived to appear 'real' because of their attention to detail? Despite having been the subject of considerable study, art historians remain unclear about why this brand of naturalism appeared where and when it did. The course will engage with this issue throughout, investigating the historical contexts of the paintings, and asking what legacy this detailed vision bequeathed to the ensuing development of Western Visual culture, from Dutch painting of the seventeenth century to the advent of photography and its impact. Other issues addressed include: developments in patronage from the court to the marketplace; the theological social implications of naturalistic painting; the introduction of new genres and their function; problems in iconographic interpretation; the eye of the spectator and changes in viewing habits; and distinctions between devotional and secular purposes of painting.The social position of artists and the development of new techniques of painting will also be investigated.
College of Humanities and Social Science
Edinburgh College of Art
This article was published on Feb 24, 2012