Undergraduate Degree




DD9011 British Art: 1839 -1939

[Studio Contact Hours: 39 hours; Pre-requisites:Nil; Academic Unit: 3.0]




Academic Unit


3 AU

Course Description


Learning Objective

Upon successful completion of this course, students will:

Recognise the art and architectural movements associated with the Victorian/ Edwardian Century; situate this recognition within a wider cultural, geographical and chronological appreciation of empire; demonstrate an appreciation of changing policies in relation to collecting and exhibiting; develop an awareness of the complexities involved in the emerging academic discipline of art criticism; enhance their skills in analysis and interpretation of works of art and architecture; refine their appreciation that art functions within an overall social and cultural context..


The course charts the evolution of British painting and architecture over approximately one century: from the Romantic era (1830s) to the Wall Street Crash and the death of the Jazz Age (1939). Within this pivotal century much changed in terms of modern thought, art, architecture, interior design, fashion, morality and so on. Whistler had been taken to court by an outraged Ruskin; Oscar Wilde had been imprisoned for his homosexuality; the Suffragettes had fought, been arrested and endured hunger strikes for women’s rights; Ireland had experienced famine, emigration and stood on the brink of Civil War; and all the time, the British Empire went from strength to strength, physically spreading out to cover, at its height, approximately one quarter of the surface of the planet. British art responded in kind: from the conservative canvases of Victorians at the Royal Academy to the Modernist abstractions of the Rebel Art Centre; from the painters of the Great War caught within a doomed generation, to the dance halls of The Roaring Twenties in the West End of London; this course observes, analyses and assesses, the role of art and artists within this rapidly evolving society.

Course Outline




Introduction to the Period / Country / Culture – The Romantics.


Anti – Industrialism: The Great Exhibition, The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Theories / Writings of William Morris.


The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, The Royal Academy and the Theories and Writing of John Ruskin.


The Aesthetic Movement and the paintings of James McNeill Whistler.


Art Nouveau and the work of Charles Renee Mackintosh..


English Impressionism and Émigré Art


Roger Fry and English Post Impressionism


Futurism, Vorticism and the Golden Age of Modernism


The Great War and British Art


Reconstruction, Convalescence and the Jazz Age


The Long Weekend – Towards Another War


A century of change: 1848 – 1945


Exam Prep

Learning Outcome

The aim of this course is to provide students with an appreciation of the art and architecture of Great Britain within a strong socio-political and historical context. The course will cross reference with literature, music, photography, criticism, architecture and other relevant disciplines.

Student Assessment

  1. Final Assessment: 40%

  2. Continuous Assessment: 60% (of which at least 15% is participation)

Continuous assessment components may include:

  • Exercises and projects​

  • Individual, group and team-based assignments


Suggested Reading:

  1. Cork, R. A Bitter Truth: Avant-Garde Art and the Great War (London and New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994).

  2. Harrison, C. English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 (Bloomington, Indiana University Press and London, Allen Lane, 1981).

  3. Hynes, S. A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture (New York, Atheneum, 1991).

  4. Malvern, S. Modern Art, Britain and the Great War (New Haven and Yale: Yale University Press, 2004).

  5. McConkey, K. British Impressionism (New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1989).

  6. Peters Corbett, D. The Modernity of English Art (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1997).

  7. Peters Corbett, D. The World in Paint: Modern Art and Visuality, 1848-1914 (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004)

  8. Spalding, F. British Art Since 1900 (Thames and Hudson)