nineteenth-century art

Classicism through Impressionism


Course description

This course covers European art from approximately 1760 through 1880.  By the end of the course, you should:

+  Have a thorough understanding of around 80 paradigm works of nineteenth-century European art, such as Mengs’s Parnassus, Rowlandson’s Progress of Emperor Napoleon, Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa, Goya’s Third of May, 1808, Daumier’s Rue Transnonain, Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea, Manet’s Olympia, Gérôme’s Dance of the Almeh, Bastien-Lepage’s Joan of Arc, Monet’s Rouen Cathedral, and Cassatt’s Woman in Black at the Opera.

+  On the basis of these works, know the characteristics of some of the major movements and genres of art produced during the period, including Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, caricature, Picturesque and Sublime landscape painting, Academic Art, Regionalism, Orientalism, the Pre-Raphaelites, early photography, Aestheticism, and Impressionism.

+  Understand and be able to articulate the close relationship between art and its historical context:  for example, between Neoclassicism and the democratic revolutions of the late-eighteenth century; Realism and the social and political problems caused by industrialization; Orientalist art and European colonialism; and Impressionism and new scientific understandings of light and vision.

+  Understand and be able to articulate the diverse roles that art has played in society, from state propaganda to social protest; objective documentation to subjective expression; spiritual transcendence to sensual indulgence, and so on.

+  Have the basic tools of visual literacy, including an ability to analyze, using appropriate vocabulary, how works of art communicate or express meanings through the artist’s careful choices of subject-matter and form.

Text and resources

The text for the course is Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Nineteenth-Century European Art (second or third edition), available in the bookstore on Cambridge Street or at your favorite online retailer.  This website has the syllabus and schedule, as well as study-guides for the exams that consist of a complete set of images to know, a list of people, terms, and concepts, a summary of the important points for each lecture, and some guiding questions to help you study.