Van Eyck to Rubens: Masters of Flemish Painting

10 week course: 4th October - 13th December 2019

A new course on the history of art in the Southern Netherlands, in which we explore the life and works of Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel, Peter Paul Rubens, David Teniers, Anthony van Dyck and many others.

Between the early fifteenth and mid seventeenth centuries the cities of Bruges, Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp enjoyed great economic prosperity and artistic prestige, attracting an international mercantile clientele keen to commission works from leading artists such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling, whose technical and stylistic innovations would have a transformative impact on the development of European painting. In particular their concentration on naturalistic detail gave portraiture a hitherto unseen degree of accuracy and realism, greatly influencing practitioners of the genre in other countries, from Botticelli and Ghirlandaio to the young Leonardo da Vinci. 

By the early sixteenth century artistic influence had begun to move in the opposite direction, from south to north, and this is clear when we examine the classicising repertoire and Italian mannerism found in the works of Quinten Massys, Jan Gossaert and Pieter Pourbus. However the most popular painter of the 1500s is without doubt Pieter Bruegel the Elder, much-loved for his humorous scenes of everyday life and amusing depictions of merry-making, drinking and dancing.

Despite Flanders’ economic decline and the rise of the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century, the period saw the emergence of some of the greatest and most popular Flemish painters, notably Peter Paul Rubens. Spanning a wide variety of genres from lyrical landscapes and fleshy nudes to rich mythological canvases and powerful altarpieces, his paintings were coveted by some of the most distinguished and powerful patrons in Europe. Rubens had a flourishing and well-organised studio from which emerged some of the finest painters of the next generation, such as Jacob Jordaens and Anthony van Dyck. It was however in England not Flanders that van Dyck reached the peak of his achievement, where under the service of Charles I he transformed British portraiture imbuing it with a realism and hitherto unknown brilliance of execution.

We are delighted to welcome two special guest lecturers. Dr Paula Nuttall is an international authority on Flemish painting and the author of From Flanders to Florence: the impact of Netherlandish painting 1400-1500. She began lecturing at the British Institute of Florence, and is now an independent scholar based in London. She is Course Tutor for the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance Year Course, and teaches for a number of other institutions and organisations, including the Courtauld Institute, Christie’s Education and The Arts Society.  Art historian Leslie Primo will also join us for a festive lecture towards the end of the course, discussing the intriguing history of the Three Kings in art, with particular reference to Jan Gossaert's Adoration of the Magi.

The course will cover Flemish masterpieces within their political, religious, social and economic context. 

Art History in Focus’s courses are characterised by a relaxed and entertaining learning environment, which often allows for lively discussion. Lectures last two hours with a break for refreshments, and the talks are illustrated by high quality digital images. A study day at the National Gallery is included. There will also be an optional extra study day organised during the course looking at Flemish art in the Wallace Collection.

Lectures are on Friday mornings and run from 11.15-1.15; doors open at 11.00

Please note, October 11th and December 6th will be afternoon sessions from 2.30-4.30. There is no lecture on November 1st (half-term)


Further Information

Location and Directions
Churchgate House Centre
Downside Bridge Rd
Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3EJ.

To view a map of the Churchgate House Centre location click here

There is free parking at the centre, although if you are unable to find a space you can park in one of the nearby roads or in the pay and display car park on Hollyhedge Road. There is further free parking on the left just over the bridge on Downside Bridge Road.

The course is open for all to join. If you would like to attend please fill in the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy here.

Once your booking has been accepted, we will notify you by email. If you have not received an email confirmation, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders. If you have not received a confirmation please do contact us to ensure that we have received your booking.

If you are unable to make a session you are welcome to invite a friend or relative who can replace you, just let us know a few days in advance.

We regret we are unable to offer refunds on unused course subscriptions, but your place may be transferred to someone else if you are unable to attend (please provide their name in advance, thank you)

A detailed lesson plan will be emailed to all participants approximately one week before the course begins.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event.

Image: Rubens, The Rainbow Landscape, c1636,  copyright The Wallace Collection London


  • Discover masterpieces from Rubens to Bruegel
  • Guest lecture by eminent author Dr Paula Nuttall
  • Explore works studied in class in a study day at the National Gallery
  • Meet people with similar interests
  • Refreshments included



Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the course or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

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