Fundamentals of Western Art Certificate

Contact Us

T:+44 (0)20 7665 4350 | London@christies.edu

Live Chat

Talk to one of our advisers

Fees: £1,900.00


This course is designed for people with busy schedules who are unable to attend week-long or daytime lectures but would like access to a comprehensive survey of the art produced from the Renaissance to the present day. The course also lends itself to those who would like to delve a little deeper into the topics by applying for the research and assignment stream of the course gaining eligibility for the foundation and advanced certificates.

Students will take away a greater knowledge of the artists and the art produced through the periods of Renaissance to Contemporary as well as an increased confidence in expressing thoughts and opinions about art within its historical and sociological context. Those students attempting the certificate strand of the course will gain research and writing experience from an art historical perspective.

Buy as a gift

Course dates


 Full course: 1 October 2018 - 1 July 2019

Term 1
1 Oct – 10 Dec (half term 22 Oct)

Term 2 
14 Jan – 25 March (half term 11 Feb)

Term 3 
1 April – 1 July (Easter 22 April/6 May bank holiday/ half term 27 May)

Daily Schedule
Monday Evenings
6.00pm - 7.30pm

Certificate fee: £1900
*Standard course fee:  £1,500 - for those who wish to do the full course without academic assignment (you will not receive the certificate).
Per term: £600
Individual sessions: £65

*Please contact shortcoursesuk@christies.edu or telephone +(0)207 752 2025 to book the standard course without certificate and individual sessions.


Term 1

This term focuses on the Renaissance in Italy and Northern Europe, discussing the rise of the independent artist, the development of complex new media, the transformation of subject matter and the influence of scientific and mathematical innovations.

Creating New Ground – This first session will look at the pioneering work of Giotto and seek to explain how a new interest in perspective and realism created a shift in late medieval picture making

Making Space – Looking at the works of Masaccio and Paolo Uccello, this session will look at how the science of perspective heralded the early Italian Renaissance.

Capturing Reflections – This session will be spent looking at how perfecting painting in oils created new possibilities in the Netherlandish art of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden.

A New Order –The works of Piero della Francesca and Botticelli will be the focus of this session exploring how new ideas borrowed from antiquity influenced the Renaissance.

New Visions – This week will seek to explain the imagined and disturbing works of Hieronymus Bosch and how invention and creation in the art of the northern Renaissance still relied on medieval imagery.

The Renaissance Men – Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer’s works will be explored in a bid to make visible not the just the impact of pictures in the renaissance but the shift in the status of artists.

Telling Tales – This week the mythological paintings made in Venice by Titian will demonstrate how classical mythologies were told through the medium of painting.

Perfection Attained – The High Renaissance in Rome will be studied through the colossal achievements and rivalries of Michelangelo and Raphael.

Perfection Inflated – This week will ask why the stretched and twisted figures of the mannerist images of Pontormo and Brozino will be studied

A Return to the Real – This session will explore how Caravaggio and the Carracci returned to the practice of direct observation at the turn of the new century.

Term 2

The second term begins with the re discoveries of the Classical world, charting artistic and social changes in style, technique and materials from the end of the eighteenth century to the first few decades of the twentieth century ending with the Surreal world of the 1920’s and 30’s.

Finding Pompeii –  This week we will look at the discoveries of the Classical world in the eighteenth century which led artists such as David, Canova and Ingres towards a new style of painting, architecture and sculpture; a neoclassical style.

A Romantic Vision – In an increasingly industrialised world, nineteenth century artists such as Delacroix and Goya sought refuge in literature and stories, colour and brushstrokes. This session will take us to France, Spain, England and Germany in painting and sculpture.

Ploughing the Fields of Realism – This week we will explore how French artists such as Courbet, Millet and Manet, during a period of social and historical upheaval, revolutionised painting by depicting real events and moments influenced by photography and philosophy.

Painting Surface –  This session will explore Impressionist painters and their techniques which changed due mainly to new paints, brushes canvasses and other innovations. Artists such as Monet transformed the painterly surface with brilliant colours and visible brushstrokes.

Making Art Solid and Durable – Artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne sought to express the surface in a different way to the Impressionists. This session will seek to compare the ways they went on to be some of the most influential artists of their time.

A Three-dimensional World – Artists of the late nineteenth century collected so called primitive art for its beauty and essential characteristics. Painters such as Picasso, informed by his collection sought to render a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional surface. This session will explore how he and others went about such an inventive task.

A Mystical World – This session will uncover the delights of artists such as Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes and Redon who delved into the world of literature and music to discover a new aesthetic. We will also explore the interest in Japan, the collecting of prints and objects from a ‘floating world’ and the impact on artists in the last few decades of the nineteenth century 

Expressing the Self – Artists from France, Germany, Austria and Norway explored ways to express their inner emotions as a new century overwhelmed their exterior senses. In a bid to reach new heights of understanding their works are both haunting and disturbing.

Rejecting the old order – Artists in Italy and Russia wanted a brave new world where art could express change and reject what they saw as a Capitalist world without modern values. This session will explore how both movements engaged with war and revolution.

Tapping into the Unconscious – As war raged around them artists in Switzerland began to respond to war in ways which changed the materials as well as the meaning of art. Duchamp’s Ready-Mades revolutionised the value of art and the early works of Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Andre Masson and others responded to the writings and teachings of Freud to uncover and explore the Unconscious and represent their new-found awareness on canvas and in sculpture.

Term 3

This last term charts the development in art from the work of the late nineteenth century to the present. We will look at how industrialisation, war, political upheaval, technology and consumerism shaped new visual languages fit to describe the modern world.

Joy and Anger in Colour – This week the Fauve works of Matisse and Derain and the works of the German Expressionism will explore how colour was harnest to explore human emotions.

Death to the Past: Futurism & Supremacism – This session will explore how modern art became a pan-European phenomenon and look at the works of Italian futurists Boccioni and Balla and the Russian artist Malevich.

Shattered Visions: Cubism – This week will explore how Picasso and Braque created a new and influential visual language at the start of the new century.

Alternate Realities: Surrealism – This week will look at the works of Surrealist and Dada artists and look at how the catastrophe of modern warfare was responded to by Dali, Magritte and Duchamp.

Pure Painting: Abstract Expressionism – This session will look at how modern art shifted from its base in Paris to New York in the wake of the Second World War and how artists like Rothko and Pollock moved modern art to complete abstraction.

Art in Space – This week will focus on twentieth century sculpture and how the concerns of modern art were expressed in three dimensions by artist such as Rodin, Brancusi and Moore.

Here it is Again: Pop Art – This session will look at the work of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol and investigate how the visual language of mass media and advertising was absorbed and questioned by the visual arts.

An Art of the Body and Mind: Conceptualism & Land Art – This week will look at how art became simultaneously intellectualised and physically experiential in the works of artist such as Joseph Kosuth, On Kawara and Richard Long.

Photography as Art – In a world where the photographic image has become ubiquitous with contemporary living, this week will look at how the fine art have embraced photography as an art medium.

Return to the Real – After the advent of complete abstraction and in an area of mass production, capitalism and consumerism, this last session will look at how painting today is making a return to realism.



There are no prerequisites for admission onto this course.


Award types: Certificate/Diploma

Assessment: Foundation Certificate – Essay on completion of term I (2500 – 3000 words)

Advanced Certificate – Essay on completion of full course (at the end of term III – 3000 – 4000 words)

Students receive tutorial support at agreed times by course leader

Foundation Certificate

After completing 10 lectures (which must be signed off by the course leader on a form) students registered for the certificate option of the Foundations of Art History course may submit an essay answering one question from a choice of questions suggested by the course leader. The question must be based on the term attended and answered in 2500 – 3000 words. Submission should be emailed to the Continuing Education Coordinator within two months of completing the term.

Advanced Certificate

After completing all 30 lectures and having passed the Foundation Certificate essay, students are entitled to submit a second essay which answers a question of their own choice based on a topic covered during the Foundations of Art History course. The essay topic must not repeat work already submitted and should be between 3000 – 4000 words in length. The subject must be agreed with the course leader. The essay is designed for future career, further research or for general interest. Submission is required no later than two months after the completion of the full Foundations of Art History course.


Library Access

The library is open for use by the Foundations of Art History Certificate students for reference only during library opening hours (Monday – Friday 9.00am – 6.00pm and until 8.00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during term time). Students will need to sign in at reception on arrival.



Full course: 1 October 2018 - 1 July 2019

Certificate fee: £1900

*Standard course fee: £1,500 - for those who wish to do the full course without academic assignment (you will not receive the certificate).

Per term: £600

Individual sessions: £65

*Please contact shortcoursesuk@christies.edu or telephone +(0)207 752 2025 to book the standard course without certificate and individual sessions.



We use cookies to improve your online experience. If you continue to use our website, we will assume you are happy about this.