The MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design established the model for Sotheby’s Institute’s rigorous and teaching-intensive MA programs. Tracing its origins back to the Works of Art course founded in 1969, it offers an in-depth exploration of connoisseurship and the integrated study of fine and decorative art and design, based on case studies drawn from the late Renaissance to the late twentieth century. Issues examined include style, materials and techniques, copies and revivals, but also investigation of patterns of patronage, collecting, and a consideration of the historical and contemporary art market for a range of fine and decorative art and design objects. The program is aimed at students who seek an immersive object-based approach to the study of a wide range of art works, and who intend to pursue a career within the professional art world whether as an auction house expert, dealer, art advisor, curator, or academic.
MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design students analyze a range of predominantly European objects dating from the Renaissance to the late twentieth century, examining them from a stylistic point of view, but not neglecting the wider historical, social, economic and cultural factors which have influenced the production of these art works. The program aims to develop critical understanding of the terms: “fine art,” “decorative art,” and “design,” as well as the synergies and divergences between art objects across a range of media and periods. Through detailed study of objects, students will also gain an understanding of the consumption of art works, examining patterns of patronage and collecting, and the historical and contemporary art market.
For the first two semesters, an intensive program of lectures given by faculty and by visiting experts is supported and enriched by visits to museums, galleries, historic houses, auction houses, fairs, temporary exhibitions, and by handling sessions, which provide first-hand experience of materials and techniques. Regular seminar discussion allows for further consideration of key issues and encourages peer learning and the development of the individual student’s critical voice. The third semester is devoted to the production of a dissertation.