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Art History Essentials investigates a wide range of art from the 15th to the 21st centuries, from Classicism and Baroque to Impressionism and Cubism, and onward toward contemporary developments, including installation, 3-D technology, and film. This not-for-credit course is designed to stimulate your interest in art history while also providing guidance and feedback on activities and assignments. It is structured to develop the necessary academic writing and research skills needed to pursue an MA in Art Business and MA in Art Logistics, and is useful for anyone interested in enhancing their understanding of art and art history for one of our degree or semester programs.

What you will learn:

  • The tools required to recognize and describe styles and periods in Western art history (15th- 21st C), including essential terminology.
  • The skills to be able to analyze, synthesize and develop an argument relating to the discussion of artworks and artists.
  • The ability to critically evaluate evidence from a range of scholarly resources relating to artworks and carry out research into artworks and artists.
  • A clear understanding of how to write and communicate in a range of ways about art and artists from a range of periods.


May 13 - July 7, 2020


Diana Newall, Course Leader, Summer Program, London and Faculty, Online Courses

Diana Newall has been an Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent, the Open University, Birmingham University, and Birkbeck College London. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was the Konstantinos Leventis Research Fellow at the Open University (2008–2010). Newall is co-author of Art History: The Basics (2008) and The Chronology of Pattern(2011). Her research includes late Medieval and early Modern Venetian-dominated Crete (1211-1699), especially the cross-cultural and artistic interactions in the capital Candia, and postcolonial perspectives and issues of globalization in contemporary art and theory.

Jane Powell, Adjunct Professor, Online

Jane is an art historian, researcher and lecturer. She has been an Associate Lecturer at the University of Kent, teaching on a variety of art history courses. Jane’s research includes a Leverhulme-funded project during which she researched and catalogued over 400 rare Soviet posters. She has co-curated a number of exhibitions including Visions of Utopia (Pushkin House, Bloomsbury, London) and Posters from the Marx Memorial Collection (Exhibition Hall TUC conference Convention Centre, Manchester). She is the co-author of The Art of Revolution (2011) and has contributed a chapter in a forthcoming book on the theory of photography. Her interests lie particularly in Modernist art of the USA, photography and the intersection of painting and photography.

Grant Pooke, Course Instructor

Sample Topics

Unit 1: Visual Analysis and Terminology

  • Week 1: Learning to Look
    • Visual analysis of painting and sculpture with Old Masters and Modern period examples
    • Introduction to key art history terminology
  • Week 2: Recognizing key characteristics
    • Provenance, authorship, connoisseurship
    • Analysis of subject matter

Unit 2: Putting it Together: Periods and Styles

  • Week 3: Exploring Periods of Art
    • Visual analysis and comparison of works from across periods and genres
    • Introduction to key periods and how they interrelate
    • Artist case studies
  • Week 4: Developing an Understanding of Style
    • Detailed consideration of the components of style and techniques
    • Closer examination of works from key periods

Unit 3: Researching Art and Artists

  • Week 5: Gathering Information from Sources
    • Locating and researching a work of art and the work by an artist
    • Identifying and recognizing authors and ownership in written sources
  • Week 6: Studying the Career of an Artist
    • Introduction to different types of scholarly sources and their uses in researching art works and artists
    • Material on effective reading and note-taking

Unit 4: Writing about Art and Artists

  • Week 7: Developing an Argument
    • Develop skills of critical and active reading of sources
    • Looking at the nature and elements of evidence, opinions and arguments
    • Analyze and develop an argument about a work of art
  • Week 8: Preparing the Final Assignment

Get Started

SIA Online Community, our learning and networking space, opens two weeks before the course begins. This space provides an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the learning platform and introduce yourself to fellow students from around the world.

Course Fees and Enrollment


This course is a graduate preparation course for students entering the Sotheby’s Institute of Art MA program.

If you are not an MA applicant, please write to for more information.

Certificate of Completion

For each course successfully completed, you receive a verified Certificate of Completion from Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Our digital certificates allow you to share new skills with various social media platforms, including LinkedIn. Successful completion is defined by each instructor in the course syllabus and consists, at the least, of regular, thoughtful participation in online activities and timely submission of assigned papers or projects.

Contact Information

For further information or course advisement, please contact:
Hayley Black, Admissions Advisor, Non-Degree Programs
Email:, Tel: +1.212.897.6644
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