Photograph of an eighteenth century sideboard

Discover the history of the fine and decorative arts.

At a Glance

  • Online course
  • Day and time TBC
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • 2 hours weekly online taught time
  • Tutor: Viv Lawes
  • Fees from £110 to £205

Join Viv Lawes (Sky Arts, Sotherby's Institute, City and Guilds of London Art School) on an exploration into the history of the fine and decorative arts in Europe and North America.

This 10-week course is aimed at complete beginners and so no previous knowledge of art or design history or practice is necessary. It is also be suitable for those who have some background in art and design history or practice.

Course delivery

This is a live-taught online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course delivery'.

Attendance certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Programme listed is indicative only and may be subject to modification

      1. The Classical World
      2. The Romanesque and High Culture of the International Gothic
      3. The Renaissance I: Historical hinterland, Theory and Form 
      4. The Renaissance II: Blossoming Virtuosity
      5. Baroque Splendour
      6. The Joys of Rococo 
      7. Neoclassicism and the archaeology of the Ancient World 
      8. Egyptomania and Orientalism
      9. Revivalism in the 19th Century
      10. The Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts Movement

                                          Additional Reading

                                          There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.


                                          Your Tutor

                                          Photograph of Viv Lawes

                                          Viv Lawes (Sky Arts/Sotherby's Institute/etc) is an author, journalist, lecturer and curator with over 25 years’ experience in the art market.

                                          Viv studied History at York University and graduated with an MA in Fine and Decorative Art from Sotheby’s Institute in 1997, where her thesis focused on the textile trade between England and India/ China in the 17th and 18th centuries. She is Senior UK Consultant for Singapore-based gallery One East Asia and has curated numerous exhibitions of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art in London since 2011. She has written catalogue essays for many Southeast Asian contemporary artists, including Chang Fee Ming (Malaysia), Jane Lee (Singapore) and Andres Barrioquinto (Philippines). She recently co-authored a forthcoming book on the late Singaporean artist Teng Nee Cheong (1951-2013).

                                          As well as teching at the Sotheby’s Institute Viv lectures at the City & Guilds of London Art School, L'Institut d’Etudes Supérieures des Arts (IESA) and the University of the Arts, London. She is also a NADFAS-accredited lecturer, travelling widely in the UK, Europe and Asia.

                                          As a journalist she has written for many national and international arts publications, including The Art NewspaperAntiques Trade GazetteThe GuardianArt + AuctionCountry LifeThe Royal Academy Magazine and the British Antiques Dealers Association annual handbook. She is currently in the finishing stages of writing a book, Horse: A History of Equine Bronze Sculpture, for the Sladmore Gallery, London.

                                          Course Delivery: Live Online Taught courses

                                          All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

                                          All times stated are British Standard Time.

                                          To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.

                                          Microsoft Teams

                                          This course will use Teams as its online delivery method. Teams is easy to use. You will need to log into your existing Teams account or, alternatively, please create a free account hereNear the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a Teams web link that will allow you to access the course. All you need do is click on the course link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class. Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

                                          All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one-hour courses there is no break.

                                          Any Questions?

                                          • Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the programme manager for adult education, Dr Michael Paraskos at
                                          • Questions about your enrolment and payment should be sent to the Programme Administrator,