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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck (HIAR10013)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaHistory of Art Other subject areaNone
Course website Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThe 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08008) OR ( Architectural History 2A (ARHI08002) AND Architectural History 2B (ARHI08003))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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.
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?Yes
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2011/12 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) WebCT enabled:  Yes Quota:  20
Location Activity Description Weeks Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
CentralTutorial1-11 14:00 - 15:50
First Class First class information not currently available
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours:Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)The Detailed Imagination: Netherlandish Painting in the Age of Jan van Eyck2:00
Delivery period: 2011/12 Semester 1, Part-year visiting students only (VV1) WebCT enabled:  Yes Quota:  None
Location Activity Description Weeks Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
CentralTutorial1-11 14:00 - 15:50
First Class First class information not currently available
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
Throughout this course students will be encouraged to draw their own conclusions on the basis of visual and documentary evidence. Once having learned to engage with the material, by developing verbal skills to explain the visual characteristics of the paintings in question, students will be encouraged to defend their points of view on any particular issue, both in presentations and in written work. From the outset of the course, emphasis in seminars will be placed on fundamental art historical questions concerning matters of attribution, chronology, stylistic development and iconographical interpretation. These should enable students to develop a feeling for the period, the problems in visual culture it raises, and appropriate methods of addressing these problems. The accompanying lectures, however, will suggest further approaches and modes of analysis that students will be encouraged to challenge and/or apply in presenting seminar papers. Students will be persuaded to decide for themselves what they consider the crucial and most interesting issues of the period, though they will naturally be expected to defend the views they express through relevant argument and by using appropriate evidence. Apart from developing skills based on promoting intellectual independence, the course will also encourage the application of these more widely by posing broad questions about stylistic change and the uses of naturalism throughout the history of Western visual culture. Generic skills based on the ability to catalogue, to explain technical features, to gather pertinent and reliable information, to develop coherent arguments, and to analyse visual and documentary evidence, all have application in fields beyond the art historical viewpoint advanced in this course.

Assessment Information
1 two-hour examination paper (50%) and 1 extended essay (50%)
Visiting Student Variant Assessment
2 x 2000 word essays
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Not entered
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Tom Tolley
Tel: (0131 6)50 4115
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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