Art History Classes

VMFA Art History Classes provide adult audiences with the opportunity to investigate the history of art through dynamic and interactive lectures, gallery visits and discussions. For ages 16 and over.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds unless VMFA cancels a class. VMFA will cancel a class if 12 students are not enrolled one week before the start date.

The Middle Ages in Europe and England [97]

Wednesdays, Mar 4 – Apr 8, 2 – 3 pm | Pauley Center Parlor
Dr. Donald Schrader, Adjunct Professor of Art History, University of Mary Washington
The great artistic movements of the Middle Ages—the Romanesque and the Gothic—emanated from France to other parts of Europe in a variety of ways, presenting a distinctive national creativity and character for the first time in medieval art. Among the architectural treasures explored in this class will be the majestic imperial churches in the Rhineland, the proud cathedrals of the independent Italian cities, and the playful novelty of the English Gothic style. Discover the remarkable figurative arts connected to these buildings, including the extraordinary sculpture of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the beautiful illustrated manuscripts used in services, and the stunning large-scale fresco cycles in Italian churches  that foreshadow the early modern era.

$90 (VMFA members $75)


The Floral as Still Life: Delacroix, Courbet, Manet and van Gogh [98]

Tuesdays, Mar 24 – Apr 14, 1 – 2:30 pm | Conference Suite & Galleries
Dr. Colleen Yarger, Adjunct Professor of Art History, Randolph Macon College
Van Gogh and many of his contemporaries were committed to flowers as both a subject and a source of painterly meditation, as evidenced by VMFA’s special exhibition Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower. Focusing on four major artists featured in this intriguing exhibition: Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh, this course highlights and examines the personal vision, style, and influences of each of these artists as it relates to their floral still life painting. 

$90 (VMFA members $75) Cost includes admission to The Art of the Flower.


Europe's Fascination with the East: From Orientalism to Japonisme [99]

Saturdays, May 9 & 16, 2 – 3:30 pm | Reynolds Lecture Hall
Dr. Mitchell Merling, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art and Kristie Couser, Curatorial Assistant for the Mellon Collections
This two-part course will explore the history of western Europe’s artistic fascination with the people and locales of north Africa, the Middle East, and east Asia. The first session will focus on nineteenth-century Romantic and Academic artists, including French Orientalist painter Eugène Delacroix. The second session examines the practitioners of French impressionism who engaged with the aesthetics of Japanese art, among them Claude Monet who famously collected ukiyo-e prints and designed a Japanese-inspired water garden surrounding his home and studio at Giverny. 

This course, offered in conjunction with the exhibition Félix Bracquemond: Impressionist Innovator (VMFA Mellon Focus galleries, Feb 13 – Oct 4, 2015), will also interpret how Bracquemond’s etchings and ceramics express stylistic elements of Japonisme.

$45 (VMFA members $35)