Foreign Invention of British Art: From Renaissance to Enlightenment

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Why were foreigner painters preferred by major European powers, the aristocracy and religious leaders, rather than native-born painters in their own countries? Why did artists travel in the first place, what was their motivation? What was their impact in England on society and art? In this art history course we will examine the contributions of artists such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Peter Paul Rubens and many more.

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

course photo
Portrait of Course Director Leslie Primo

Course Director
Leslie Primo

Leslie Primo has worked at the National Gallery and has presented on Art on the BBC, he lectures for The Arts Society, Royal Academy, National Portrait Gallery besides the V&A, teaches at Imperial Colleague after graduating from Birkbeck University, specialising in early Medieval & Renaissance Studies.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my Academy course.. as always I have learned a lot. Previous Online Course Participant

Course overview

The stadtholders of European city states, the Holy Roman Emperors and Popes, the kings and queens of Tudor and Jacobean Britain, they all preferred to patronise a coterie of itinerant foreign artists and their assistants. From the Habsburg’s preferred patronage of Italian and Low Country artists to the success of Dürer in Venice, Van Eyck in Italy, and Holbein in England, together we will lift the lid on the multiple routes of artists from across Europe that fed the insatiable appetite of the wealthy European elites for luxurious artworks to adorn the private homes and palaces.

This will be a story of new and foreign culture imposed on to reluctant native-born artistic communities at home in England, a story of push back from those communities, a story of racism, resentment and violence that would ultimately lead various forms a legislation to curb the flood of foreigners into England.

We will examine the contributions of well-known artists, and those whose identities have long since been lost, such as: Hans Holbein the Younger, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Isaac Oliver, Paulus van Somer, Anthony van Dyck, Peter Lely, Peter Paul Rubens and more.


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Online course: Foreign Invention of British Art: From Renaissance to Enlightenment

3 November 2023 - 8 December 2023


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+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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