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Romantic ruins: An art history

Weekend art history course

Short course

  • 22 October 2022, 10am — 5pm
  • 23 October 2022, 10am — 5pm

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Thomas Daniell RA, View from the ruins of the fort of Currah, on the river Ganges (detail), 1801.

Hand-coloured aquatint. 485 mm x 655 mm. © Photo: Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Ruins – and their depiction – have fascinated cultures from antiquity to today. Join us for this weekend course as we explore various ruins in art and architecture and learn what they tell us about societies.

Please note: this is an on-site event only

The 18th and 19th centuries ushered in a new age of excavation and archaeology that led to a fascination with ancient worlds. Ruins become melancholic symbols of a long-gone grandeur, representative of the fragility of human civilisation. They became a central motif in the art of the Romantic movement from Piranesi to Turner and were celebrated in the writings of Lord Byron and Mary Shelley.

The course uncovers sites and cities of the past, exploring how and why they decayed (whether through the devastating impact of the natural world or from the effects of war and conflict). It asks how artists throughout history have responded to ruins, whether imbuing them with a sense of pathos and dramatic beauty; taking on the role of capturing a changing landscape; or by inventing their own ruins – in the form of intricate capriccio paintings and architectural follies.

The artist, Emma Stibbon RA, reflects on how the complex ideas around ruins influence her own work, including The Whaling Station – on display in the RA’s Collection Gallery. The course takes inspiration from this and a number of other drawings and paintings in the RA collection to think critically about the role of ruins in cultures and societies from the classical world to the present day.

Minimum age 18. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss any accessibility needs, please contact academic.programmes@royalacademy.org.uk.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 22 October 2022, 10am — 5pm
  • 23 October 2022, 10am — 5pm

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


Book now