Courtauld Institute of Art
The Courtauld Institute of Art (UK: //), 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.
Somerset House in the Strand, home of the Institute and Gallery
|Endowment||£37.6 million (as of 31 July 2017)|
|Budget||£18.9 million (2016-17)|
|Chancellor||The Princess Royal (University of London)|
|Affiliations||University of London|
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.
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.
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. The Courtauld celebrated its 75th anniversary during the 2007–08 academic year.
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. 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. The Independent has called it "probably the most prestigious specialist college for the study of the history of art in the world."
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.
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. 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.
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. In 2009, it was decided that the Witt Library would not continue to add new material to the collection, and in 2017 a mass digitisation project which will make both Witt and Conway items available online commenced as part of Courtauld Connects.
The book library is one of the UK's largest holdings of art history books, periodicals and exhibition catalogues.
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. Two other websites and sell high resolution digital files to scholars, publishers and broadcasters, and photographic prints to a wide public audience.
The Courtauld uses a virtual learning environment to deliver course material to its students. 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. Additionally, together with the Warburg Institute, the institute publishes The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, an annual publication of about 300 pages.
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.
The Courtauld Gallery is not presently open to the public, having closed on 3 September 2018 for at least two years for a major redevelopment 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. 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.
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