Lives of the Great Artists: from Giotto to Raphael

10 week course: 9th October - 11th December 2020

In 1550 Giorgio Vasari published one of the most important and influential books in the history of art.  Dedicated to the then ruler of the city, Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, it was entitled “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” whose expanded second edition included more than 200 artists’ biographies, spanning a period of 300 years. Vasari’s ground-breaking book combines fascinating descriptions of artworks with delightful anecdotes about their creators, including colourful stories of jealousy, adultery, rivalry and even murder.

Our online, live streamed course will explore the life and work of a different artist each week with discussion of how their popularity has been defined by art criticism, with reference to Vasari’s extraordinary series of biographies.

Artists under discussion include Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Giorgione, Piero della Francesca, Botticelli and Sofonisba Anguissola. There will also be a special guest lecture by eminent author and art historian Dr Richard Stemp on Donatello.

Tune in from anywhere in the world to watch, or enjoy a recorded version of the lecture which can be accessed for up to 24 hours afterwards. Each session will last approximately 1 hour 45 minutes including a short break and  question/answer sessions. Students will be provided with comprehensive hand-outs and a suggested reading list/online resources before the course begins - these will be sent by email. 

Participant numbers for courses will be limited to allow for extended discussion. Those wishing to use the microphone/webcam function can appear in the lecture to ask their questions. There will also be a virtual "coffee break" where those wishing to use this function can chat informally.

Live streamed lectures are on Friday mornings and all sessions run from 11.00 - 12.45.(UK time)


Further Information


1. BOOK.

Click on the gold “Book This Course/Event” button on the right hand side now, fill in the online booking form and pay online. Please use a UK account/card (if you are paying using a non-UK account/card please email us to arrange alternative payment methods). You will be notified automatically by email once your booking has been accepted.

The participation fee is £130 per person, if making bookings for a number of people please provide their email addresses when booking them as separate participants.


Download ZOOM once you have booked - please print/download the instructions in this downloadable link and read them carefully. 


You will receive an email at least 24 hours before the lecture asking you to register.** This is a privacy function enabling only registered participants to attend. After registering you will immediately receive the log in link to the lecture.

** Please note that these details are sent out in office hours, so if you book on a weekend you may not receive them until Monday. You must register with the same name that you have booked under and at least 45 minutes before the lecture begins, otherwise you may not be able to watch. If you have not received your email confirmations, please check your ‘deleted items' and 'junk mail' folders.


Join the lecture at least ten minutes before it is scheduled to start, to ensure everything is working.

If you are not able to watch the lecture at the time it is live-streamed, you can still book online, as above. You will be contacted after the lecture has been broadcast with instructions on how to access the recorded lecture, for up to 24 hours afterwards.You do not need to advise us if you can't participate live, don't worry!

Bookings close the day before the course is streamed. Participants are limited.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event. We regret that we are unable to offer technical support with Zoom but tips can be found in the attachment. If you would like to book more than one event, please book separately for each lecture that you would like to attend, thank you. If you are booking for more than one person, it is important that you include their email address so that we can send them the lecture link too. We regret we are unable to offer refunds but don't worry if you are not able to attend, as we will send you the recorded lecture link.

Images from left to right: Leonardo da Vinci, The Lady with the Ermine (detail) © Princes Czartoryski Foundation, On deposit at the National Museum, Krakow; Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (detail) © Galleria degli Uffizi Florence; Raphael, St Catherine of Alexandria (detail) © The National Gallery, London


  • Online, live lectures
  • Explore the life and works of masters of art, from Leonardo and Botticelli to Raphael and Michelangelo
  • Viewable from anywhere in the world
  • Special guest lecture included



To book, please complete our online booking form.

Book this course / event

If you have any questions regarding the course or booking please send us an email

Recommended Reading

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