Goddess of the Hearth

The lack of classical art history at The Courtauld is surprising to say the least. Besides the few classical lectures during Foundations, there is not one Topic Course, Constellation, or master’s programme available to study ancient Greece and Rome. This is odd as classical art has undoubtedly found a way to affect, influence, and sneak into every twist and turn of Western art since the fall of the Roman Empire. However, even I start to get sick of art history’s cyclical obsessions with classical forms. Considering this in the first few weeks of our move to Vernon Square, and in the absence of the accustomed neoclassicism of Somerset House, my mind goes to that nineteenth century drawing by George Scharf - Entrance Hall of Royal Academy - a familiar setting, but filled with an uninspiring and quite frankly nauseating selection of Greek statues and busts, along with those two centaurs we all know and debatably love.

George Scharf, Entrance Hall of Royal Academy, 1836, drawing, 30.48 x 21.16cm, British Museum, London (Photo: British Museum)

I wouldn’t be unhappy if The Courtauld’s lack of ancient studies was simply to allow, finally, a movement away from the overwrought classical tradition. Though that doesn’t mean I’m not going to force it on everyone by writing a bit about classics every fortnight for the Courtauldian this year.