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Reframing the muse

Weekend art history course

Short course

  • 21 May 2022, 10am — 5pm
  • 22 May 2022, 10am — 5pm
This event has now ended

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Part of our

Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan

events programme
Go to exhibition page

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No.2: The Little White Girl (detail), 1864.

Oil on canvas. 76.5 x 51.1cm. Tate, London, Bequeathed by Arthur Studd 1919. Photo: Tate.

Join us for a weekend art history course celebrating often overlooked figures in Western art history – those who have been labelled as ‘muse’.

In classical antiquity the muses were the embodiment of creativity. In art history, however, the muse has often been reduced to a passive figure, valued predominantly for their inspiration-giving qualities. This course tracks these shifts in perception, thinking critically about the terminology we use when referring to these figures, and working to reframe our view of a number of sitters, artists, friends and lovers, who have been called a muse throughout art history.

Over the weekend, participants explore the many facets of the muse(s), starting with an investigation into their first iterations in the classical world as goddesses of the arts. In the 18th century, female artists, poets and thinkers invoked the muse in a way their male counterparts couldn’t; RA Founding Member, Angelica Kauffman, for example, often painted herself and friends as the literal embodiment of a muse.

The course highlights and celebrates the women of 19th and 20th century art movements such as those involved with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and with the Surrealist movement, as well as shining a light on some of the women who modelled in the Royal Academy’s Life Room. Join us as we consider what ‘muse’ means today, and whether the concept has a place in contemporary society.

Covid-19 update: We are looking forward to welcoming you back in a way that ensures everyone’s safety. Numbers will be limited to allow for social distancing, and we will be following the latest government guidelines. In the event of another national lockdown or enforced closure, we reserve the right to move this event online or to a future date. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to discuss any accessibility needs, please contact academic.programmes@royalacademy.org.uk.

Minimum age 18.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 21 May 2022, 10am — 5pm
  • 22 May 2022, 10am — 5pm

Wolfson British Academy Room, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts