Art History

At Norwich School History of Art is taught in the Sixth Form

The AQA course assumes no previous knowledge of the subject and is suitable for the wide range of candidates who wish to develop their interest in, and enjoyment of, this fascinating field of study.

The course focuses on painting, sculpture and architecture from the ancient world to the present day. It is a highly diverse subject and involves no practical coursework, being based exclusively upon essays. Consequently it is ideally suited to those wishing to study Architecture, Philosophy or Art History at institutions such as Cambridge University or the Courtauld Institute of Art.

At AS Level, two study units offer candidates a structure through which they can establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding of the subject:

Unit 1 - Visual Analysis and Interpretation

Pupils study the formal characteristics of painting, sculpture and architecture. They learn how to describe artworks, and to consider the materials and techniques required to produce art and architecture.

The study of formal features is balanced by that of the historical, social and cultural contexts in which painting, sculpture and architecture are created. 

Unit 2 - Themes in History of Art

Pupils study eight historical themes relating to examples selected from Western Art History. These include Subjects Depicted in Painting and Sculpture, Style in Art, Patronage, Historical & Social Contexts, Gender, & Status of the Artist, The Function of Architecture, and Materials & Techniques. This unit is assessed through three essay questions.

At A-Level pupils investigate and interpret two prescribed periods and locations: Art and Architecture in Fifteenth Century Europe and Art and Architecture in Europe and the USA, 1900 to 1945.

Unit 3 – Investigation and Interpretation (1)

Students study a particular period in history in order to deepen their understanding. The unit explores European painting, sculpture and architecture in the fifteenth century (including Renaissance paintings by Italian artists such as Masaccio, da Vinci, Bellini and Botticelli); Northern European painters such as Robert Campin, Rogier van der Weyden and Jan van Eyck; and examples of religious and secular architecture from Venice, Rome and Florence. The unit is assessed through two essay questions.

Unit 4 - Investigation and Interpretation (2)

This unit takes an in-depth look at the art and architecture of Europe and America from 1900-1945. It covers 20th century movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism and Surrealism. The unit also explores Modernist sculpture, photography and architecture and is assessed through two essay questions.

During the A-Level course candidates develop a wide range of skills, some of which will be completely new. Above all, History of Art promotes a curiosity and criticality about our visual environment and fosters a fluency of expression and argument about what we observe.

Pupils gain a sense of history through visual materials, learn new specialist vocabulary, cultivate skills of visual analysis and evaluation and refine their essay-writing technique.