Year One - Art History

Leonardo de Vinci

Featuring some of his artworks, in chronological order.

Year One - Art History

Art History Timeline

Year One - Art History

Gustave Courbet by Fried


Questions on Pages

Reading Pages

Q & A ‘S

Courbet’s Life

Gustave Courbet

“Courbet apprenticed himself to the old masters, in particular to Rembrandt and the seventeenth-century Spaniards, and by the second half of the decade, to judge from self-portraits.”

Who did Courbet apprentice himself to?

“Courbet produced a series of monumental, realistic canvases, notably An After Dinner at Ornans (1848-49), the Stonebreakers (1849) and A Burial at Ornans (1849-50)”

What are the names of Courbet’s ‘monumental’ works?

Courbet’s Impact

“The notorious Burial at Ornans, with its enormous dimensions, deadpan portraits of local notables, flouting of traditional compositional principles, and brutally physical application of paint, epitomises that affront, which is largely why it created a scandal when it was exhibited in the long-delayed Salon of 1850-51.”

Why did the Burial at Ornans cause a scandal at the Salon?

“An account of Claude-Joseph Vernet’s contributions to the Salon of 1767, withholding until near the end of his commentary the information that the peopled landscapes he was enthusiastically describing were painted rather than real.”

Why did the Burial at Ornans cause a scandal at the Salon?

“T. J.Clark among them, believe that Courbet’s art declined markedly after the mid-1850s, becoming relatively undistinguished well before his establishment of a workshop for producing mediocre landscapes.”

What are the criticisms of Courbet’s work? (nb look at T.J Clark and Baudelaire?

“Courbet’s painting ceased to be a source of innovation within the French avant-garde and partly for that reason was sometimes described by contemporary critics as having lost its edge.”

What are the criticisms of Courbet’s work? (nb look at T.J Clark and Baudelaire?

Realistic Paintings

“A realist painting’s representation of a given scene was to all intents and purposes determined by the “actual” scene itself.”

What is the problem with conceiving of realist paintings as only a depiction of ‘what is there’?

“By the middle of the 1850s Baudelaire had turned against Courbet’s painting because realism as such seemed to him to leave no place for the exercise of the imagination.”

What is the problem with conceiving of realist paintings as only a depiction of ‘what is there’?
Charles Baudelaire

“Baudelaire’s attacks on realism in the name of the imagination terms of criticism that bear an altogether different relation to Courbet’s art than Baudelaire intended.”

What is the problem with conceiving of realist paintings as only a depiction of ‘what is there’?

“Painting have at their core a demand for the achievement of a new and paradoxical relationship between the work of art and its audience.”

What is the problem with conceiving of realist paintings as only a depiction of ‘what is there’?

“Painting successfully to persuade its audience of the truthfulness of its representations.”

What is the problem with conceiving of realist paintings as only a depiction of ‘what is there’?

The Theatre

“Painting as a whole, far from projecting a convincing image of the world, became what Diderot deprecatingly called a theatre.”

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

“Simultaneously, the death of theatre as Diderot knew it and the birth of something else.”

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

“Diderot’s conception of painting is profoundly dramatic.”

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

“Diderot maintained that it was necessary for the painting as a whole actively to “forget” the beholder, to neutralize his presence, to establish positively insofar.”

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

“The canvas encloses all the space, and there is no one beyond it,” Diderot wrote in his Pensées détachées sur la peinture (1776-81)

In this sense his conception of painting rested ultimately on the metaphysical fiction that the beholder did not exist.

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

“Diderot and his contemporaries regarded as the experiential test of completely successful painting”

Why might both Fried and Diderot not like the theatre?

Realistic & Imaginative?

“A painting, could be both realistic in effect and imaginative or metaphorical in its relation to its materials.”

Can a painting be both realistic and imaginative?

“The intimate connection between Diderot’s antitheatrical views and the painting of his time can best be brought out by looking briefly at representative works by two painters belonging to distinct artistic generations, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) and Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805).”

Can a painting be both realistic and imaginative?

‘Can a painting be both realistic and imaginative? Do you agree with Fried?’

Personally, I do agree with Fried in the sense that a painting can be realistic in effect and imaginative in materials. For instance portraying objects from observation realistically yet using unconventional materials when doing so. Yet I also think that paintings can also be realistic when portraying the subject matter but placed in an alternate composition like the art movement surrealism which remonstrates this well.

Rene Magritte. The Son of Man (1946)

For instance, how the elements of the painting above represents all elements realistically yet in an imaginative composition.

‘Look at the two paintings: Burial and Artists Studio. Discuss their differences and explain why the artist studio might be the key to Fried point that art can be both realistic and imaginative?’

Courbet. The Artist’s Studio

This painting is very realistic in the portrayal of objects and figures. Yet I would suggest imaginative in the scene depicted. Like how the artists studio would not have looked this way necessarily but may be a construct of the thoughts and processes which are created within the studio.

Burial at Ornans

I would suggest, that this painting is very realistic in its betrayal of objects and figures also. However, I don’t believe that the scene depicts anything imaginative in its composition or construction.


Fried, M., In Absorption and theatricality: painting and beholder in the age of Diderot. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, pp. 1–8.
Year One - Painting

Large Scale, Greyscale Paintings

30 Minute Expressive Painting Tasks

For these paintings I was inspired by Edvard Munch’s 1894 Melancholy, which I previous shared a blog post on. I chose to focus on this painting for inspiration as I was looking into the concept of ‘Structure’ shown in the current Fine Art Painting project brief.

Project Brief

Edvard Munch’s Meloncholy inspired me to view ‘Structure’ in daily life. The figure in the painting appears very emotional in a negative sense, yet surrounded with beautiful scenery. Forming me to question if a person can feel trapped in a structure of their own emotional, no matter the freeing surroundings they may be within.

First Large Scale Painting (30 Minutes)

I chose to take elements from the original painting, such as: the sky, sea, sand and the figure. Yet explore these ‘Structural’ ideologies in a expressive, more abstract sense. By doing this I was able to create emotion with the paint, I think I was able to connect with the inspiration of the piece which enabled me to create a more coherent set of paintings.

Second Large Scale Painting (30 Minutes)

For this piece I created the same piece in negative colours. I tried to stick to the same shapes and composition of the first piece. However, I wanted to use large brushes and an extended brush to use my body to create the painting the same as the first, to create the authentic emotion and mark makings during the creation.

Collage of Large Scale Paintings

I then created a collage using the best elements of the second painting and attaching them to the first piece. I think the outcome of which made the piece more endearing.

Year One - Painting

20 Minute Observational Studies (Acrylic)

Excluding use of Black and White Paints

With Brushes, Multiple Objects
With Brushes, Single Object
Without Brushes, Single Object
Year One - Painting

Painting Research

Edvard Munch – Melancholy (1894-96)

“Painted in a Symbolist style, with lines, colors and figural distortion to reveal the seascape through the prism of sadness and jealousy, Melancholy is part of a series of similar paintings and woodcuts that Munch completed in the 1890s. The artwork shows a man brooding in the foreground, succumbed to sadness, with his body turned away from the scene that is causing him pain: a man and a woman who are standing on a jetty, in the background, about to embark on a boat. The couple may physically be there, on the pier, but the expressiveness of the painting seems to make no distinction between imagination and reality. Whether the man is simply imagining the two lovers going away or he is acutely aware that they’re nearby, is of no consequence. The pain he is feeling is just as real.”

Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies

Journal Article Review

Visionary Anatomies Exhibition Review – Article

This particular exhibition catalogue was reviewed in the USA 2004 and is now currently an archived exhibition at present. When looking into this article I became interested in the art involved yet while doing so I became intrigued in how the article was written and the elements involved in doing so.

Annotated Article Page

Throughout the article Ione uses quotations from the artist work during the exhibitions to develop her own opinions based upon their work. The author uses this to add context to the visual artworks being viewed. Helping me to realise, that when reviewing exhibitions personally, it would be beneficial to add historical context, societal/cultural influences and quotations to inform my opinions.

Annotated Article Page

I found this article very informative, not necessarily to the exhibition but more so to the way the author wrote her review. I was able to see the context in which her ideas came from as well as how she linked these external factors back into the content of the article. I am very glad I found this article when browsing the online De Montfort University Library and I hope to use similar analytical features when reviewing exhibitions in the future, like Amy Ione.

Ione, Amy, et al. Leonardo, vol. 39, no. 2, 2006, pp. 171–172. JSTOR,
Year One - Sculpture Fine Art

Sculpture – Houses Project

‘As part of your project work this Term you will be investigating the enclosure and creation of space by materials – this is common to architecture and sculpture. We are all ‘housed’ in bodies and spaces. To start your investigation you will be making a range of ‘boxes’ – small enclosures. These can develop in all sorts of imaginative ways. Take a look at the images here as a stimulation to thinking about how enclosure, structure, materials, divide up, surround and create the spaces we need, enjoy, retreat to, escape from: the spaces that order and disorder us.’

Project Brief


My inspiration behind my box creation was inspired by bees. During the morning of receiving the brief I was randomly having a discussion about honey and then I saw this yellow recycled plastic, the combination of which inspired me to focus upon a beehive. Reflecting the symbolic shapes, colours and simplistic symbolism of the bee in their habitats.

Sample Sculpture Creation

To create this practice sample I started by cutting out six honeycomb inspired hexagons. I was going to originally form a hexagonal prism but then realised I had formed the majority of the net wrong so I decided to play around with the hexagons I had already cut out, with formed a very abstract formation which I was very pleased with.

Hexagonal Prism

So I unintentionally had a happy accident, in regards to not researching before creating but it worked out well as I formed a more unique creation. That overall helped to reflect the idea of ‘confinement’ which I was trying to reflect within my structure.

Confinement within Structures

Confinement (noun)  

the situation in which a person or animal is kept somewhere, usually by force

Cambridge Dictionary Definition

I wanted to reflect confinement within my structure, to express how bees are being forced into an enclosure we create for them as human beings. To gain from them rather than nurture their habitats. By creating this box reflecting a bees habitat, I hope to bring light to the confinement we put upon these beautiful tiny creatures as well as the moral implications of exposing the bees to ‘diseases and parasites, such as deformed wing virus and varroa mite’.

Creating my Box

When creating this template I started by drawing guidelines for making the shape, I them measured the main lines to be 6cm in length. However, two of the sides was measured too long so I had to adapt the scale to form my final adaptation of the template which I then transferred onto wood.

After I transferred the template size onto the wood I clamped this too my working area and began to cut the shapes out with a wood jigsaw.

I then drew around the random sides of my practice sample to form the extra pieces of my wooden box.

To form the construction of my box I purchased this all purpose glue to adhere the sides together. However, this didn’t work well, due to the angle of the sides the glue was not strong enough to support this design as well as taking a long time too dry. As a result, I decided to try using a hot glue gun. This worked well and enabled me to adhere the sides together in the desired angles.

After all the sides where adhered together in the desired form, I cut off the excess glue on the edges with a craft knife and used hand held wood files/ sand paper to smooth the corners. Yet on certain edges I could not smooth to desired affect due to the placement of the sides being internal from the others, so I applied filler to create a more seamless blend. I then sanded away the excess filler and began the painting process.

Smoothed Box

I decided to paint the box yellow to reflect the simplistic symbolism of the cartoon honeycomb yet used details reflected from the natural formation of honeycomb to bring some reality to my sculpture.

Final Enclosure
Year One - Art History

Representation and Modern Art (1999)


a creation that is a visual or tangible rendering of someone or something

Representation Lecture – Powerpoint

Painting was about representation in, ’18th century in the West, painting was marking surfaces to represent visible things, the imitation of nature.’

J.Bell, What is Painting? Representation and Modern Art (1999) Chapter 1.

Graven Images

Bell references images being forbidden ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water notions of ‘art itself, and the relation of these notions to the rise and fall under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them. of ‘abstraction’. Subsequently meaning, ‘They have the power to imitate nature and trick and manipulate the audience, or that it was not good enough to imitate it.’

Ten Commandments


‘Aaron, Moses’ brother made a Canaanite idol when Moses went to climb Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.’ meaning he made false idols.

Icons were said to be made without hands due to, ‘Acheiropoieta. They have come into existence miraculously, not created by humans, would be receptacles for divine content.’

Acheiropoieta Icons

‘Images can consist of one imitation of visible nature stitched with another imitation of a different visible nature.’ Hence why we should be sceptical when trusting the reliability of these images.

Plato vs Aristotle


Plato stated in regards to art and pictures; ‘Painters distract our attention with the likeness of way that things look, the way that things look are a poor likeness of its true nature, truth is in the idea. By copying appearances, the painter knows nothing worth mentioning about the subject. Art is a form of play and should not be taken seriously. Images are created because people want to indulge in their vain desires.’


Aristotle’s ideology in contrast to Plato, ‘Valued mimeses, believed it was a natural human activity, children must learn through imitation. Bad examples would teach people how not to behave. Images can consist of one imitation of visible nature stitched with another imitation of a different visible nature.’

Copying Art

Mimetic – Mona Lisa

What is mimeses? ‘Poetic mimeses (eg. Painting) is an imitation of appearance alone, is not truthful, believed to corrupt the soul by Plato. A noun formation from the verb mimeisthai, ‘To Mime’, a bodily performance in which you tell a story, or bring someone’s presence to mind without speaking.’


J.Bell, What is Painting? Representation and Modern Art (1999) Chapter 1.

Year One - Drawing

Observational Drawing – 10 Minute

This is my first observational drawing of my foundation degree! Not that I’m proud to say this as I forgot all the basis principles of drawing in the moment.

However, I am glad I was able to create this as it enable me to reflect areas for improvements. It also reminded me to not use HB pencils for this type of sketching. I should also have chosen a more simple subject matter to gather more visual information rather than typography. Due to this I lost time on perspectives, composition and technical applications. I should have focussed more on line, tones, shape and shadows.

For my next drawing activities, I am going to take on my self-evaluations to create some more fluid sketches!