Centre for Continuing Education

French Conversation Course II: Art History

French. Learn French with us.

If you want to learn to speak French, our French classes are ideal for adult learners to enjoy a practical and social experience while you learn French language and culture. Learn French the smart way with French courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

This French conversation course is designed for intermediate or advanced students who are wishing to practice the French language by exploring and discussing Art masterpieces in a relaxed atmosphere. We will be reviewing European renowned artists and their paintings, using technical terms and structural device to describe the art work as well as discussing the context in which it was created. The participants will enhance their conversation and discussion skills by interpreting and presenting arguments in a debate.


This course aims to develop the participant’s understanding of and fluency of, the French language as well as acquiring knowledge on Art History. They will explore the specific terminology to describe art work and enhance their conversation and discussion skills.


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

  1. Understand Art History by exploring key artists and their relevant works of art.
  2. Enrich their vocabulary by describing representational paintings, participating in impromptus dialogues and sharing their point of view.
  3. Use their knowledge of French language in a more artistic and cultural approach.


Class 1: Cézanne

Cézanne is credited with paving the way for the emergence of twenthieth-century modernism, both visually and conceptually. His work constitutes the most powerful and essential link between the ephemeral aspects of Impressionism and the more materialist, artistic movements of Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, and even complete abstraction.

Class 2: Manet

Édouard Manet was the most important and influential artist to heave artists to become painters of modern life. He was driven to scandalize the French Salon public with his disregard for academic conventions and his strikingly modern images of urban life.

Class 3: Rembrandt

Rembrandt is thought to be the greatest Dutch painter and also one of the greatest painters of all time. Rembrandt’s greatest creative triumphs are seen in his portraits of his contemporaries, illustrations of biblical scenes and self-portraits as well as his innovative etchings and use of shadow and light.

Class 4: Vermeer

He is regarded as one of the best genre painters in the history of art, and one of the best portrait artists of the Dutch Golden Age. His subject matter depicts ordinary people and narratives of domesticity in the 17th century. Vermeer was popular for his realistic paintings and was described as painter of the people for the people.

Class 5: Chagall

Marc Chagall created work which was based on emotional association rather than traditional images. A dream-like quality is characteristic of almost all of Chagall’s work; as the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire once said, Chagall’s work is “supernatural.” He is widely regarded as one of the most successful artists of the 20th century, synthesizing elements of Cubism, Symbolism and Fauvism.

Class 6: Miró

Joan Miró's characteristics are found in his signature biomorphic forms, geometric shapes, and semi-abstracted objects. Miró invented a new kind of pictorial space in which carefully rendered objects issuing strictly from the artist’s imagination are juxtaposed with basic, recognizable forms.

Class 7: Modigliani

Modigliani modernized two of the enduring themes of art history: the portrait and the nude. His nudes scandalized audiences with their depiction of their frank, unadorned sexuality. His protraits are both specific and highly stylized, each uniquely revealing its sitter’s inner life, while at the same time unmistakably “Modiglianized”.

Class 8: Toulouse-Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec created art that was inseparable from his legendary life. His career lasted just over a decade and outlined two major developments: He elevated the popular medium of the advertising lithograph to the realm of high art and his paintings of performers and prostitutes are personal and humanistic, revealing the sadness and humour of those women.

Intended Audience

This French conversation course is suitable for:

  1. intermediate to advanced french language speakers (B1 – 210 Hours of study) who have completed French courses up to 301, as the technical vocabulary will be discussed prior to discussion and the conversation can be done in shorter sentences without having to use complex grammatical structures.
  2. those who have previously attended French Conversation I: Art History. It is not essential however for participants to have completed French Conversation I courses prior to attending this course.

Delivery Style

Delivered as an interactive tutorial where student participation is encouraged.


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