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Sotheby's Institute of Art

British art and Architecture, 1700 - 1900

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This course will chart the key themes and movements in British art and architecture across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The period represents a turning point during which Britain became capable of producing its own painters, sculptors and architects who could rival any of those on the European continent. This is symbolised by the watershed moment of the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768. Furthermore, during the nineteenth century, Britain became home to some of the most ground-breaking painters and theoreticians, such as J. M. W. Turner, who created painterly visions of landscape that broke the boundaries of what was possible in this art form. The next generation included the avant garde Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood devoted to a uniquely British aesthetic. The century ended with the painted furniture, tapestries and textiles of utopian socialist William Morris. By the 1870s and 1880s rival galleries had been established that championed artists such as James Abbot McNeil Whistler, paving the way for Modernism.

The course will explore these areas, drawing attention to the key artists and architects as well as their identifying features and techniques. Throughout the two weeks there will be a strong emphasis on the object-based approach. The course will include visits to public and commercial galleries, country houses, and encounters with specialists and dealers who work intimately with British paintings, watercolours and historic buildings.

On completion of the course students will be able to analyse and discuss the most significant artists and movements that occurred in British art and architecture during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

Sample Topics And Suggested Reading

  • Palladianism
  • William Hogarth
  • Joshua Reynolds and the Royal Academy
  • Robert Adam and Neoclassicism
  • Turner and Constable
  • The Pre-Raphaelites
  • William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement
  • Watts, Whistler and the Aesthetic Movement
  • Dealing in British Paintings


Adam Busiakiewicz is the summer course leader for British Art and Architecture. He is an art historian, lecturer and lutenist. He received a Bachelor's Degree in History from University College London and afterwards held a curatorial role at Warwick Castle. After building on a keen interest in Br...
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