Courtauld Institute of Art

The Courtauld Institute of Art (UK: /ˈkɔːrtoʊld/), commonly referred to as The Courtauld, is a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art and conservation. It is among the most prestigious institutions in the world for these disciplines and is widely known for the disproportionate number of directors of major museums drawn from its small body of alumni.[3][4]

The art collection of the Institute is known particularly for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and is housed in the Courtauld Gallery.

The Institute and the Gallery are both based in Somerset House, in the Strand in London. As of 2019, the Institute's teaching and research activities have temporarily relocated to Vernon Square, London, while its Somerset House site undergoes a major regeneration project.

Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House, Strand
Somerset House in the Strand, home of the Institute and Gallery
Endowment£37.6 million (as of 31 July 2017)[1]
Budget£18.9 million (2016-17)[1]
ChancellorThe Princess Royal (University of London)
DirectorDeborah Swallow
Students495 (2016/17)[2]
Undergraduates200 (2016/17)[2]
Postgraduates295 (2016/17)[2]
United Kingdom

51°30′39″N 0°07′02″W / 51.51083°N 0.11722°WCoordinates: 51°30′39″N 0°07′02″W / 51.51083°N 0.11722°W
AffiliationsUniversity of London
The Courtauld Institute of Art logo


The Institute was founded in 1932 through the philanthropic efforts of the industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld, the diplomat and collector Lord Lee of Fareham, and the art historian Sir Robert Witt.[5]

Originally the Courtauld Institute was based in Home House, a Robert Adam-designed townhouse in London's Portman Square. The Strand block of Somerset House, designed by William Chambers from 1775–1780, has housed the Courtauld Institute since 1989.[5] The Courtauld celebrated its 75th anniversary during the 2007–08 academic year.

Academic profile

The Courtauld Institute of Art is the major centre for the study of the history and conservation of art and architecture in the United Kingdom. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate teaching to around 400 students each year.[6] Degrees are awarded by the University of London.

The Courtauld was ranked first in the United Kingdom for History and History of Art in The Guardian 's 2011 University Guide and was confirmed in this rank for research quality in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.[7][8] The Independent has called it "probably the most prestigious specialist college for the study of the history of art in the world."[9]

The Courtauld was ranked, again, first in the United Kingdom for History and History of Art in The Guardian’s 2017 University Guide.[10]


According to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the Courtauld hosts the highest proportion of the UK's world-leading and internationally excellent research out of all higher education institutions with 95% of research rated in the top two categories (4*/3*), 56% of which was rated in the 4* category, tied for highest in the UK with London Business School.[11]

Undergraduate study

The only undergraduate course offered by the Courtauld is a BA in the History of Art. This is a full-time course designed to introduce students to all aspects of the study of western art.[12]

Postgraduate study

Several taught courses are offered at postgraduate level: master's degrees in history of art, curating the art museum, the history of Buddhist art, and the conservation of wall painting are taught alongside diploma courses in the conservation of easel paintings and the history of art.[13] Students in the history of art master's programme have to choose a specialisation ranging from antiquity to early modern to global contemporary artwork. Special options are taught in small class sizes of 5–10 students, allowing an optimal discussion between faculty members and students.

Study resources

The Courtauld has two photographic libraries which started as the private collections of two benefactors: the Conway Library, covering architecture, architectural drawings, sculpture and illuminated manuscripts, named after the Lord Conway of Allington and the Witt Library, after Sir Robert Witt, covering paintings, drawings and engravings and containing over two million reproductions of works by over 70,000 artists.[14] In 2009, it was decided that the Witt Library would not continue to add new material to the collection.[15] The book library is one of the UK's largest archives of art history books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues. There is a slide library which also covers films, and an IT suite.[16][17]

An online image collection provides access to more than 40,000 images, including paintings and drawings from the Courtauld Gallery, and over 35,000 photographs of architecture and sculpture from the Conway Library.[18] Two other websites and sell high resolution digital files to scholars, publishers and broadcasters, and photographic prints to a wide public audience.[19][20]

The Courtauld uses a virtual learning environment to deliver course material to its students.[21] Since 2004, the Courtauld has published an annual research journal, immediations, edited by current members of the research student body. Each cover of the journal has been commissioned by a leading contemporary artist.[22]

Courtauld Gallery

The art collection of the Institute is housed in the Courtauld Gallery. The collection was begun by the founder of the Institute, Samuel Courtauld, who presented an extensive collection of mainly French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in 1932. It was enhanced by further gifts in the 1930s and a bequest in 1948, and has since received many significant donations and bequests. The Gallery contains some 530 paintings and over 26,000 drawings and prints.[23]

The Courtauld Gallery is not presently open to the public, having closed on 3rd September 2018 for at least two years for a major redevelopment [24][25] Since 1989 it has been housed in the Strand block of Somerset House, which was the first home of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768. In April 2013 the Head of the Courtauld Gallery was Ernst Vegelin.

Notable people associated with the Courtauld


The Courtauld is especially well known for its many graduates who have become directors of art museums around the world.[4] These include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery, London; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the British Museum, London; the Tate, London; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco; the National Gallery of Art, Washington; and the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The number of notable alumni in the fine arts has earned graduates the "Courtauld Mafia" nickname.[26]


The faculty of the Courtauld includes[27]:


The Directors of the Courtauld Institute have been:

William George Constable 1932–1936
T. S. R. Boase 1936–1947
Anthony Blunt 1947–1974
Peter Lasko 1974–1985
Michael Kauffmann 1985–1995
Eric Fernie 1995–2003
James Cuno 2003–2004
Deborah Swallow 2004–


  1. ^ a b "Annual Report and Financial Statements for 2016–2017" (PDF). Courtauld Institute of Art. p. 27. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "2016/17 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (CSV). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  3. ^ Chaplin, Elizabeth (1994). Sociology and Visual Representation. New York: Routledge. pp. 53–56. ISBN 0415073626.
  4. ^ a b Simon, Robin (19 September 2007), "Masters of the Artistic Universe", The Spectator, retrieved 5 August 2014
  5. ^ a b "History". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  6. ^ Academic Staff, Information for students. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  7. ^ "University guide 2011: History and history of art | Education". 7 June 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Results & submissions : REF 2014 : View results and submissions by UOA". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London) – A-Z Unis & Colleges – Getting Into University". The Independent. 16 July 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  10. ^ "University University league tables 2017 – the full rankings". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  11. ^ "University Research Excellence Framework 2014 – the full rankings". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  12. ^ "BA (Hons) History of Art". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  13. ^ "Postgraduate Taught Courses". The Courtauld Institute of Art. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  14. ^ Image Libraries: Witt Library. The Courtauld Institute of Art, 2009. Accessed April 2013.
  15. ^ Courtauld Institute: Cuts Challenge Witt Library. ArtLyst, 30 March 2010. Accessed April 2013.
  16. ^ "Courtauld Image Libraries". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  17. ^ "Student IT Services". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  18. ^ Art and architecture. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  19. ^ Courtauld Images. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  20. ^ Courtauld Prints. Courtauld Gallery of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  21. ^ Virtual Learning Environment Archived 9 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed April 2013.
  22. ^ "About immediations". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  23. ^ John Murdoch, The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. London: Thames & Hudson, 1998, p. 7.
  24. ^ "Gallery Closure". The Courtauld Institute of Art. 2015–2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  25. ^ Brown, Mark (23 November 2017). "Courtauld Gallery to close for two years for £50m revamp". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  26. ^ Simon, Robin (17 September 2007). "Masters of the Artistic Universe". The Spectator.
  27. ^ "Academic Staff". The Courtauld Institute of Art.

External links

Media related to Courtauld Institute of Art at Wikimedia Commons

Anita Brookner

Anita Brookner (16 July 1928 – 10 March 2016) was an English award-winning novelist and art historian. She was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge from 1967 to 1968 and was the first woman to hold this visiting professorship. She was awarded the 1984 Man Booker Prize for her novel Hotel du Lac.

Atticus Ross

Atticus Matthew Cowper Ross (born 16 January 1968) is an English musician, songwriter, record producer, and audio engineer. Along with Trent Reznor, Ross won the Oscar for Best Original Score for The Social Network in 2010. In 2013, the pair won a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for their soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has worked with Reznor's band Nine Inch Nails since 2005, and became an official member of the band in 2016.

Bridget Cherry

Bridget Cherry OBE, FSA, Hon. FRIBA (born 17 May 1941) is a British architectural historian who was series editor of the Pevsner Architectural Guides from 1971 until 2002. She is the co-author of several Pevsner guides.Cherry is vice-president of the Heritage of London Trust, a Council member of the London Topographical Society and a member of the board of the Ironbridge Heritage Trust. She is a life trustee of the Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Cherry previously served as a commissioner for English Heritage, the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England and as a trustee of Historic Royal Palaces.She is the elder sister of the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh.

Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery (UK: ) is an art museum in Somerset House, on the Strand in central London. It houses the art collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art, a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art.

The Courtauld collection was formed largely through donations and bequests and includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and other works from medieval to modern times; it is particularly known for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

In total, the collection contains some 530 paintings and over 26,000 drawings and prints. The Head of the Courtauld Gallery is Ernst Vegelin.The gallery closed on 3rd September 2018 for at least two years during a major redevelopment called Courtauld Connects.

John Newman (architectural historian)

John Arthur Newman (born December 1936) is an English architectural historian. He is the author of several of the Pevsner Architectural Guides and is the advisory editor to the series.

John Shearman

John Kinder Gowran Shearman (pronounced "Sherman"; 24 June 1931 – 11 August 2003) was an English art historian who also taught in America. He was a specialist in Italian Renaissance painting, regarded by many as "the outstanding figure" of his generation in this area, who published several influential works, but whose expected major books on Quattrocento painting, for the Penguin/Yale History of Art series (already commissioned in 1984, and still a gap in the series in 2019), and on Raphael, never appeared.

Joshua Compston

Joshua Richard Compston (1 June 1970 – 5 March 1996) was a London curator and progressive thinker, whose company Factual Nonsense was closely associated with the emergence of the Young British Artists (YBAs).

Julian Stallabrass

Julian Stallabrass is a British art historian, photographer and curator. He was educated at Leighton Park School and New College, Oxford University where he studied PPE. A Marxist, he has written extensively on contemporary art (including internet art), photography and the history of twentieth century British art.

La Loge

La Loge (The Theatre Box) is an 1874 oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It is part of the collection at Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

List of public art in Kensington

This is a list of public art in Kensington, a district in the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

Lorne Campbell (art historian)

Ian Lorne Campbell (born 1946) is a Scottish art historian and curator. Campbell was Beaumont Senior Research Curator at the National Gallery, London from 1996 to 2012, and from 1974 to 1996 lectured on the Northern Renaissance at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He has curated major exhibitions at the National Gallery and other museums, including ones on Rogier van der Weyden at Leuven in 2009 and the Prado in 2015.

Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine

Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine is a series of oil paintings by the French artist Paul Cézanne.

Olivier Berggruen

Olivier Berggruen (born 14 September 1963) is a German-American art historian and curator, described by the Wall Street Journal as playing "a pivotal role in the art world."

Paul Crossley (art historian)

Paul Crossley, is emeritus professor of the history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 2016. He is a specialist in the architecture of medieval central Europe.

Perdita Weeks

Perdita Rose Annunziata Weeks (born 25 December 1985) is a Welsh actress.

Richard Cork

Richard Cork (born 25 March 1947) is a British art historian, editor, critic, broadcaster and exhibition curator. He has been an art critic for the Evening Standard, The Listener, The Times and the New Statesman. Cork was also editor for Studio International. He is a past Turner Prize judge.

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear is an 1889 self-portrait by Dutch, Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh.

Tamar Garb

Tamar Garb FBA is Durning Lawrence Professor in the Department of History of Art at University College London. A researcher of French art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Garb has published numerous catalogue essays and books that address feminism, the body, sexuality, and gender in cultural representations. Garb has also written essays about numerous contemporary artists, such as Christian Boltanski, Mona Hatoum, Nancy Spero, and Massimo Vitali. Garb has also organized several art exhibitions, including Reisemalheurs at the Freud Museum in London in 2007 (on South African painter Vivienne Koorland), and Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2011. More recently, she has been researching and publishing on the history of art and photography in post-apartheid South Africa, including curating exhibitions on this subject (including Land Marks/Home Lands: Contemporary Art from South Africa at the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London in 2008). Garb's exhibition Figures and Fictions was nominated for a Lucie award in Curating.

The Conversion of Saint Paul (Rubens, London)

The Conversion of Saint Paul is a painting by Peter Paul Rubens, now in the Courtauld Gallery in London. It shows the conversion of Saint Paul and was produced between 1610 and 1612. Between around 1612 and 1614, The Defeat of Sennacherib was produced by the artist as a pendant to it.

Colleges and
Central bodies
and programmes
Places and
Universities and colleges in London
Other university-level colleges
Further education colleges
Sixth form colleges
Northern Ireland
Overseas territories
Crown dependencies

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.