History of Art

History of Art is a long-established and very successful subject at Marlborough and is taught within perhaps the largest department of any leading school. We are concerned with human achievement in the sphere of visual creativity, and our programme embraces the study of painting, sculpture and architecture. Students learn to hone their critical skills by analysing works of art, develop their aesthetic sense by acquiring an overview of major artistic themes and trends, and train the eye in identifying characteristics of genres and styles. Students are taught a range of interpretative and evaluative approaches to canonical works, and are encouraged to consider the changing role of the artist and artistic production within different periods, societies and cultures. History of Art is a popular option with students, and we have a very proud record of sending a good number of these to read the subject at first-rate universities each year.  Former students are currently reading History of Art at Oxford, Cambridge, the Courtauld Institute, Edinburgh, Bristol, and other leading universities.

Departmental Aims

Students at Marlborough follow History of Art in the Sixth Form through the Cambridge Pre-U programme (syllabus Art History 9799). It is also possible for students of the International Baccalaureate to study Art History as a standard level subject within the Schools’-Based Syllabus (SBS).

The aim of both courses is to make students aware that History of Art is an exciting academic discipline, and one that equips young people with discerning visual literacy as they face a world increasingly dominated by images. Students learn about the currents and influences that worked upon artists in the past; they also gain insight into the materials, methods and practices that brought art into being.

A very important part of their learning concerns the appreciation of works of art as cultural artefacts belonging to specific historical and cultural moments. It is also our hope that students will come to see art as a subtle gauge of how people experienced life in the past.