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Art History Enrichment

A Level Art Historians have enjoyed an enriching programme of trips and talks this term, including exclusive access to some of the latest developments in the field.

Upper Sixth Art History students were treated to a day of art viewing in their final week at school, enabling them to see in person, for the first time, many of the works they have studied. The trip began at Tate Britain and ended at the National Gallery, taking in public sculpture and architecture en route. The transformative power of seeing art first-hand was made clear as the class’s long-standing and heated debate about the relative merits of Bellini’s and Mantegna’s versions of The Agony in the Garden resurfaced, with several girls switching allegiance on seeing the two works in real life.

For the Lower Sixth, highlights have included a trip to Greenwich, as well as two talks from visiting speakers from the Courtauld Institute, invited specifically at the students’ request to provide deeper insights into topics that they found especially interesting.  Teresa Lane gave a truly eye-opening lecture on the iconography of the Holy Trinity, based on her PhD research. She showed the class fascinating, if somewhat alarming, early depictions of the Trinity as a three-headed creature, providing a valuable insight into how artists must often experiment and get things ‘wrong’, before finding an acceptable way of depicting a particular subject.

We were also delighted to welcome Professor Susie Nash, the world-leading authority on Claus Sluter’s Well of Moses. The class listened in awe as she described risking life and limb at the top of a wobbly ladder to inspect the monument at close quarters and confirm her transformative hypotheses about its meaning. She was also wonderfully generous in sharing as yet unpublished research with her South Hampstead fans, who are now in the privileged position of knowing things about the work, which are yet to be shared with the academic community.

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