Centre for Continuing Education

Art History Course: France through the Ages

Art History. Explore humankind’s amazing cultural heritage.

Study objects of art and their historical development the smart way with Art History courses at the University of Sydney.

Art History is a window to the past in understanding social and cultural history through the study of art works. Over the centuries, France has played a leading role in the cultural life of Europe, from the emergence of Roman and Gothic architecture to the rebellious Impressionists, creating masterpieces that gave a new meaning to the concept of art. The art forms that will be reviewed are: painting, sculpture and architecture.


The benefits of this course are immense and valuable. At the end of the course, participants will be able to measure the diversity of French culture though the vastness of the works of art displayed publicly in sculptural and architectural monuments, as well as privately in museum, castle, churches, and private properties. The participant will be able to look at a work of art, place it within a historical, cultural and artistic context and deciphers the message behind its aesthetical beauty.


Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Define works of art for their historical value and in their historical context.
  2. Record the evolution of art through times.
  3. Recognise various scenes represented in art which include an understanding of iconography and symbolism.
  4. Follow a methodology to help read a work of arts in terms of lines, colors and perspective.
  5. Identify art works for those planning to travel to the sites discussed in the course.


Medieval period (6th to 13th centuries)

  • Architectural innovation and emergence of a new artistic trend.
  • From Merovingian art to the emergence of Roman art.

Gothic art period (13th to 15th centuries)

  • Technical innovation and revolution in architecture.

Renaissance and mannerism (15th to 17th centuries)

  • The school of Fontainebleau, the Burgundy court and the elaborate construction of many of the ‘Loire chateaux’ and the majestic tapestries of “The Lady and the Unicorn”.

Baroque, classicism and rococo

  • The 17th and 18th coincide with the works of Rubens, Claude Lorrain and Poussin among others.

Neoclassicism and romanticism (18th and 19th century)

  • Two great masters: David and Ingres epitomised the time of the French Revolution.
  • Delacroix will reaffirm the power of light and colour over design.

Realism and impressionism (late 19th century)

  • Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet sought to convey a truthful and objective vision of contemporary life.
  • The artists, such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and, Auguste Renoir revolutionised Western conceptions of painting.

Post-impressionism (late 19th and early 20th centuries)

  • A term used to describe the reaction in the 1880s against Impressionism.
  • Led by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat.

School of Paris (20th century)

  • The fauvists and the cubists will lead the Art into a new era where its concept and definition will be deeply challenged. Study of works by Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall, Soutine among many.

Intended Audience

This art history course is suitable for personal interest adult learners, university students and active retirees who are interested in understanding more about art history.

Delivery Style

Interactive workshop.

Recommended Reading

French art:

  • Gombrich, E. H. (2009). The Story of Art. London: Phaidon Press.
  • Blunt, A. (1999). Art and Architecture in France, 1500 – 1700. United States: Yale University Press.
  • Walther, I. F. (2015) Impressionist Art. Cologne, Germany: Taschen.

Museum websites:


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • Tutor’s delivery and info terrific! Would love to attend other courses with this tutor who is concise, informed and informative.

  • The tutor was very engaging and the course content well structured and very informative. Many thanks for six weeks of insightful and enjoyable learning.

What others say.

  • The tutor has an intimate knowledge of the topics and great presentation skills. Shares their knowledge with the class. Course materials are of a high quality. Very much enjoyed the course!