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When & Where

Quick Facts

  • Availability Yes
  • Tutor Carlo Corsato
  • Course Code W24PDGB04A
  • Suitable For 19 year olds and up are permitted on this course

What you will learn

Discover how art and society developed in Europe by looking at paintings in the National Gallery with Dr Carlo Corsato. Each week, we will focus on different artworks by various artists from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will be investigating some lesser-known paintings with incredible stories. We will understand how well-renowned masterpieces became such iconic images. We will talk about great masters such as Van Eyck, Leonardo, Dürer, Titian, Artemisia Gentileschi, Rembrandt, Velazquéz, Poussin, Vigée Le Brun, Turner, Gainsborough, Rosa Bonheur, Cezanne, Monet, and many others. Most importantly, we will have a great time enjoying some of the most significant national treasures, made available to the public free of charge. Join a friendly group of people passionate about art and curious about the world around us. Provide yourself with the tools to understand and enjoy paintings beyond specialist knowledge. Learn how to read images, the rules of visual language, the vocabulary you may use to describe what they represent and how they make you feel.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify different styles and different art schools
  • Compare and contrast different images and describe similarities and differences
  • Identify and explain compositional rules, symbolism and optical illusions
  • Appreciate the use of, and the difference between, vantage points, viewing angles and perspective
  • Think critically about the mindsets and beliefs of past societies
  • Consider and appreciate the importance of art conservation and restoration


  • Full fee
  • Concession fee
  • Class format and activities

    Sessions will be taught in an informal lecture/discussion format with group activities, mindful observation and interactive Q/A. Your tutor Dr Carlo Corsato has over ten years of experience in adult education and student-led learning. Learners will be encouraged to offer their views, ask questions, and contribute to conversations, maintaining a high level of engagement at all times. Unexpected views and challenging questions are more than welcome and treated with respect. History and art-historical facts are presented with great expertise without unnecessary technical jargon or a scholarly lecture style.

    Entry requirements

    The course is ideal for beginners to historic art. Experienced and returning students will also be given food for thought: the course will offer a fresh look at some renowned masterpieces as well as much less known fascinating works of art.

    What you need to know before you enrol

    The course is taught onsite at the National Gallery. We meet every week in the Sainsbury Wing Foyer at 1.50 pm, and we make our way up to Level 1 at 2 pm sharp. If you cannot attend, please get in touch with your tutor in advance. A room list for each session will be provided a week in advance to allow latecomers to catch up with the group. Although a certain stamina level may be required, we will avoid long walks and try not to stand in front of paintings for too long. The Gallery also provides a limited number of free stools, and benches and sofas are available in a few rooms. Your tutor can arrange 10-minute comfort breaks during visits. The Gallery is step-free access and has lifts conveniently located across the facility. Please check the National Gallery website if you do need further information:

    What you need

    You may wish to bring a pencil/pen and paper for making notes. You may also like to use your phone or a non-professional camera for taking pictures without the use of flash. More information on the National Gallery website:

    What you can do next

    This course runs three times a year. Every term, we explore different paintings and artists depending on what is available among the about 2500 artworks of the National Gallery. Dr Carlo Corsato will be teaching ‘How to look at Paintings’ every term. Please check the website for dates. We offer a range of long and short courses in art history at Morley and cover a range of periods and subjects of interest. You may like to opt for a lecture-based programme online or in the college or one where you visit galleries and study the art and artefacts in situ (subject to Covid 19 restrictions). You can browse our full programme by searching “art history” on our website.