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Course - National Portrait Gallery

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Comments about Course - National Portrait Gallery - At the institution - London - Greater London

  • Objectives
    An introduction to portraiture and the national portrait collection. Different periods and styles are discussed each week in front of the portraits. Includes visits to the current temporary exhibitions.
  • Course description
    What is the course about?

    The National Portrait Gallery houses one of the world's greatest portrait collections. As a collection of British portraits, it is also one of the best places to learn about British history. This course offers an accessible introduction to the Gallery and its collection. Each week we focus on a different aspect of portraiture, and the history of Britain represented by groups of portraits from the same period.

    Meet on the Ground floor, Ondaatje Wing, at the bottom of the big escalator.

    What topics will we cover?

    The course follows the display of portraits at the NPG which is currently organised into historical periods: Tudors; Stuarts; Georgians and Regency; Victorians; twentieth century and contemporary works. Each class will combine looking at elements of portraiture and thinking about the period of British history under review. Because the NPG is not primarily a collection of art, the course does not focus heavily on art history, however the tutor will present information on the history of art in Britain as part of the background to the study of British portraiture. The course will include a visit to the current temporary exhibitions (ticket price not included in the course fees).

    By the end of this course you should be able to:

    • Recognise different styles and types of portrait
    • Describe portraits in the NPG and express an informed personal response
    • Understand the periods of British history covered by the NPG
    • Talk about portraiture with greater confidence

    What level is the course?


    The course is open to all. No prior knowledge of the subject is required.

    How will I be taught?

    The course is not based around lecturing. Each week the tutor will select a small number of works from the current displays and present them to the group. Group discussion comprises the main part of each class. The tutor will lead the discussion and ensure that all the students have their say. Personal and individual responses will be valued. The tutor will supply written notes and photocopies of relevant reading material.

    Are there any other costs (e.g. certification, materials, equipment or books I need to buy)?

    The course fees do not include entry into the paying temporary exhibitions. You may wish to buy some of the books on the reading list.

    What feedback will I get?

    All students complete a statement of learning form at the beginning and end of the course to assess their achievement. The tutor will provide informal feedback during class discussion. You will receive regular feedback from your tutor throughout the course, as and when appropriate. At the end of the course you and your tutor are asked to assess the progress you have made.

    Will I have a chance to give my views on the course?

    Yes, please complete the evaluation form at the end of your course. These are monitored and help us to continually improve our courses.

    When I've finished, what course can I do next?

    Some of the other gallery-based art history courses at City Lit may interest you. For example Tate Britain and Tate Modern: An Introduction to Tate Collections in London and Contemporary Art Showing in London.

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