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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe 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.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR ( Architectural History 2A (ARHI08002) AND Architectural History 2B (ARHI08003))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  21
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 24 hour online examination paper (50%) and 1 x 2,000 word extended essay (50%)
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Assess key developments in painting in the Burgundian Netherlands between c.1400 and c.1500.
  2. Engage with approaches that help to identify, date and contextualize works of art during this period. Interpret examples of painting of this period by means of visual analysis.
  3. Apply critical attitudes to understanding works of art in their original contexts through observation and through reading of original documentary sources (where these survive). Critique recent scholarly literature relating to this period.
  4. Evaluate the significance of the pictorial naturalism developed in the Burgundian Netherlands during this period within the broader history of Western visual culture.
  5. Develop and defend original points of view concerning paintings of the period and identify the principle techniques practised in Netherlandish painting at this time.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Bryony Coombs
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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