Early Impressionism HISTART4021

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course will consider the emergence of Impressionism, focusing on the period from the Second Empire (1852-70) when the future Impressionists began their careers, to 1876, when French Impressionism became formally 'established' through its second group exhibition, and received its first important critical endorsements. The interaction of artistic developments with wider social, historical, political and cultural factors will form a key aspect of the course, together with themes such as 'painting modern life', and the role of parks, gardens and cultivated nature, the modern city, and the flâneur. Aspects of the historiography of early Impressionism, and the relevance of concepts of the 'avant-garde' and of 'modernism', will also be covered.


This course will be taught in two one-hour sessions each week, normally a lecture and a seminar, but some sessions will take the form of a visit to a gallery or collection centre, such as Kelvingrove Art Gallery, the National Galleries of Scotland, Special Collections, and Kelvin Hall. There will be one seminar presentation by each student during the course. Arrangements for the presentations will be made on the course.

The lectures will give detailed accounts/analysis of specific
 topics and historical/contextual developments. The seminars will build on the lectures by providing opportunity for in-depth tutor-led group discussion and analysis of specific artworks, texts, ideas, etc, and will accommodate the Oral Presentations as part of this. Students will be encouraged to investigate primary and secondary evidence critically, and to develop their abilities and confidence in engaging with a variety of methodological approaches.

Requirements of Entry

Entry into Honours will be subject to normal departmental requirements. Single Junior Honours is a prerequisite for Single Senior Honours and Joint Junior Honours is a prerequisite for Joint Senior Honours. (103H /103F).


One 15-20min. oral presentation either in October-December, or in January-March; to be submitted subsequently in written form: worth 10%
Two x 3,000-word essays: one to be submitted in December; the other in Febr
uary/March: each worth 15%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to

■ introduce students to the distinctive features of early Impressionism, with special emphasis on their relationship to their wider historical, cultural, social, political etc contexts;

■ present and discuss original works of art and period critical/theoretical and literary texts as primary source material, and to develop students' critical and analytical skills in dealing with such material;

■ promote advanced skills of critical and visual analysis, and of verbal and written discussion, as well as awareness of relevant historiographical approaches, as a foundation either for more advanced academic study, or for a variety of types of employment.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course student will be able to

■ distinguish between, and make valid critical interpretations and assessments of, the iconography, styles, significance, and period and modern reception of work by key artists influential on the rise of Impressionism work from c. 1850-1876, key members of the Impressionist group, and selected contemporaries outside France who developed native forms of Impressionism;

■ relate the major works of early Impressionism to aspects of their wider historical, social, political, and wider cultural and/or scientific contexts (e.g. the transformation of Paris by Napoleon and Haussmann during the Second Empire; the rise of photography; the 'great horticultural movement'; Chevreul's investigations into colour, etc), and analyse their artists' use of sources in earlier art (Renaissance and Dutch 17th-century art; Rococo painting and decoration etc);

■ distinguish between, and making valid critical comment on, writings on early Impressionism both by leading art theorists/critics of the period and by modern art historians;

■ apply knowledge of changes in the institutional structures, methods of exhibiting and publicising art, and systems of patronage during the period, to elucidate early Impressionism's exhibiting practices, choices of subject, style, and format and period reception;

■ evaluate and synthesise evidence from primary and secondary source material and from other relevant disciplines, to draw valid and independent conclusions about given works of art.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.