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History of Art

Studying History of Art in its historical and contemporary forms gives students crucial knowledge of world civilisations, as well as analytical tools to navigate our increasingly visual world. History of Art students develop knowledge of artists, architects, art-historical terms and concepts, as well as an understanding of how images shape our political and social identities.

The subject allows students to develop particular strengths and interests, encourages lifelong learning and provides access to higher education and university degree courses in Art History and related subjects.

“Art encourages you use your imagination and express yourself creatively.”

Hannah, Subject Specialist

Our Approach

We teach History of Art at both A Level and undergraduate level. We use the introductory lesson to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses and their knowledge of key concepts, before tailoring a series of lessons to support the student to reach their full potential. In the run up to the exam period, lessons are focused on exam preparation, revision techniques, and timed questions.

The nature of the subject allows students to engage independently in the historical, theoretical and critical study of art. Therefore, where possible, we are keen to tailor the examples of paintings, sculptures and architecture to each individual student and their particular interests. 

It is invaluable to research and investigate art through first-hand experience. Tutors encourage students to attend art galleries and public museums and, where possible, offer lessons out of the classroom and in front of the artwork/s being studied.

Exam Boards

We have experienced teachers with knowledge of the Edexcel and Cambridge Pre-U courses. Some of our tutors are also A-Level examiners.

Wider Reading

We encourage students of the History of Art to pursue their interests beyond the A Level or Pre-U syllabus. This is especially important if they are considering studying the subject at university.

Introduction to the History of Art

BBC Civilisations: This TV series comprises of  9 episodes, all with a different theme, exploring thousands of years of visual culture. Presented by Mary Beard David Olusoga and Simon Schama.

Book: Penny Huntsman, Thinking About Art (2016)

The colonial history of Britain’s galleries and museums and the issues of repatriation and restitution

Book: Alice Proctor, The Whole Picture: The colonial story of art in our museums and why we need to talk about it. (2020)

How the relationship between object and viewer contributes to meaning

John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972. Released as a four-part television series in 1972 available on YouTube. It was also adapted to a book of the same name.

The economics of contemporary art and auction houses

Book: Don Thompson, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark (2008)

  • Episode 2: How do we look? – Why have human beings always made art about themselves? In what ways do some ancient conventions of representing the body still affect us now?
  • Episode 8: The Cult of Progress – How did artists react to imperialism in the 19th century?
  • How does one ‘read’ a work of art?
  • Is it possible to de-colonise our galleries?
  • Who has the right to hold these objects?
  • How should their stories be told?
  • How have representations of woman throughout art history reinforced their marginalisation?
  • How does reproduction change an image?
  • What are the factors have contributed to Jackson Pollock’s drip painting No.5. 1948 selling for $140 million?
  • What are the marketing strategies which power the art market?

Our Subject Specialists

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Hannah K

"Art encourages you use your imagination and express yourself creatively."
Hannah teaches in the History of Art department at Westminster School. She is an Art and Photography teacher with over three years of classroom experience, teaching students at GCSE and A level. Hannah holds a BA Art History and Curatorial Studies and first-class MA History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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Lucy C

"English Literature provides insight into time periods, cultures and societies vastly different to our own."
Lucy graduated from Warwick University with a degree in History of Art. She also holds a Masters in Victorian Art from The Courtauld Institute of Art. Lucy completed the Teach First programme in 2017, specialising in Secondary English. At her current school, Lucy also holds the role of Head of History of Art and is a qualified Edexcel examiner.
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