Painting of three sisters

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

At a glance:

  • Evening Class
  • Wednesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours taught time per week
  • Tutor: Leslie Primo
  • Fees from £210 to £395
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus

Visiting art museums and galleries is one of the most enjoyable activities in life, but it can be made even more rewarding by discovering some of the stories behind the great works of art, and the ideas that inspired artists in their studios.

On this course we will explore a wide variety of Western European art works, from early Byzantine through to late Victorian art and Impressionism. The tutor will encourage us to participate in discussions on the different varieties of art we will look at, while guiding us to greater understanding of the lives of different artists, their cultural background and their influence on later developments in art.

The programme is broadly chronological, with forays into different geographical regions of Europe, and we will discover some of the key movements in art, the characteristics of different styles and information on specific artists, such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and others.

At the start of the course we will think about how to look at paintings and sculpture, and consider concepts such as compositon and iconography, exploring the way saints and ancient Greek and Roman gods were decpicted, as well as the clues artists give us to understanding their works through various forms of symbolism

The course involves 18 classroom sessions at Imperial College in South Kensington, plus and two Saturday afternoon visits to a major London art museum in the company of the tutor.

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

Course Information

Course Programme

  •  1: Weds, Oct 16th (Iconography of Venus, Cupid & Mars) Classroom session 1
  •  2: Weds, Oct 23rd (Iconography of Adorations & Annunciations) Classroom session 2
  •  3: Weds, Oct 30th (Iconography: Saints & Sinners) Classroom session 3
  •  4: Weds, Nov 6th (Byzantine & Gothic) Classroom session 4
  •  5: Weds, Nov 13th (Medieval & Gothic) Classroom session 5
  •  6: Weds, Nov 20th (Florentine Renaissance) Classroom session 6
  •  7: Weds, Nov 27th (Art & Reformation in Northern Renaissance Europe) Classroom session 7
  •  8: Weds, Dec 4th (The Sienese Renaissance) Classroom session 8
  •  9: Weds, Dec 11th (Botticelli & Florence) Classroom session 9


  • 10: Weds, Jan 8th and 15th (NO CLASS)
  • 11: Sat, Jan 18th (National Gallery – 14:30-16:30) meet in Getty Entrance, East Wing - Atrium, on sofas, opposite the shop
  • 12: Weds, Jan 22nd (Leonardo, Projects, Patrons & Peregrinations) Classroom session 10
  • 13: Weds, Jan 29th (Raphael and the End of the Renaissance) Classroom session 11
  • 14: Weds, Feb 5th (The Rise of the Divine Michelangelo) Classroom session 12
  • 15: Weds, Feb 12th (Titian and the Venetian Masters) Classroom session 13
  • 16: Weds, Feb 19th (Baroque, Carracci to Bernini - A New Direction) Classroom session 14
  • 17: Weds, Feb 26th (Northern Baroque in England - Mytens - Van Dyck) Classroom session 15
  • 18: Weds, Mar 4th (Art in Spain - Velázquez to Murillo) Classroom session 16
  • 19: Weds, Mar 11th (The Dutch Golden Age - Rembrandt to Vermeer) Classroom session 17
  • 20: Weds, Mar 18th (From the Victorian Age to the Modern Age) Classroom session 18
  • 21: Weds, Mar 25th (NO CLASS TODAY)
  • 22: Sat, Mar, 21st (National Gallery – 14:30-16:30) meet in Getty Entrance, East Wing - Atrium, on sofas, opposite the shop

The programme may be subject to modification.

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text, but if you would like to read more on the subject we suggest:

  • Bell, Julian, Mirror of the World, (Thames & Hudson, 2007)
  • Bomford, Dunkerton, Gordon and Roy, Art in the Making: Italian Painting before 1400, (National Gallery Publications Ltd, 1990)
  • Bomford, David, Kirby, Jo, Leighton, John and Roy, Ashok, Art in the Making: Impressionism (National Gallery Publication, 1990)
  • Brown, Beverly Louise (ed), The Genius of Rome: 1592 – 1623, (Royal Academy of Arts, 2001)
  • Bretrell, Richard R., Impression: Painting Quickly in France 1860 -1890 (Yale University Press, 2000)
  • Brown, Jonathan, Painting in Spain: 1500 – 1700, (Yale University Press, 1998)
  • Bull, George (ed), Giorgio Vasari: Lives of the Artists, (Penguin Books, 1987) Volumes: I & II
  • Carr, Dawson W., Velázquez, (National Gallery Company Ltd, 2006)
  • Capon, Edmund, Benedetti, Sergio W., Strinati, Claudio, and Vaughan, Gerard, Caravaggio and His World: Darkness & Light, (Art Gallery of New South Wales and National Gallery of Victoria, 2003)
  • Dunkerton, J., Foister, S., Gordon, D. & Penny, N., Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery, (National Gallery Publications Ltd, 1991)
  • Gombrich, Ernst H., The Story of Art, (Phaidon, 1995)
  • Hearn, Karen (ed), Van Dyke & Britain, (Tate Publishing, 2009)
  • House John, Impressionism for England: Samuel Courtauld as Patron and Collector (Courtauld Institute Galleries and Authors, and Yale University Press, 1994)
  • Jaffé, David, with Ede, Minna Moore, Rubens: A Master in the Making, (National Gallery Company Ltd, 2005)
  • Spicer, Joaneath A. with Orr, Lynn Ferderle, Masters of Light: Dutch Painters in Utrecht during the Golden Age (Yale University, New Haven and London, 1997)
  • Liedtke, Walter, with Plomp, Michel C., Rüger, Axel, Vermeer and the Delft School, (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001)
  • Mac Laren, Neil, revised by Brown, Christopher, The Dutch School: 1600 – 1900, (National Gallery Publications Ltd, 1991)
  • Snyder, James, Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, The Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575, (Laurence King Publishing, 2005)
  • Sutherland Harris, Ann, 17th Century Art & Architecture, (Laurence King Publishing, 2009)

Your Tutor

Photograph of Leslie PrimoYour tutor for this course will be Leslie Primo. Leslie is a highly experienced and well-known art historian, who has appeared on television and radio, as well as lecturing at organisations including the National Gallery in London and Wallace Collection. You can read more about your tutor at: Leslie Primo's website

Twitter: artfirstprimo     

Blog: artfirstprim

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 40  20  £395    (Early Bird Rate: £360*) £230    (Early Bird Rate: £210*)
£305    (Early Bird Rate: £280*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October   |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read the  before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 40  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% (16) of the taught classroom sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Leslie Primo at

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.