Art and Society in Spain

Module code: SP3149

Module co-ordinator: Dr Helen Rawlings

Module Aims

This module will explore some of the major aspects of Spain’s development between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries via a selection of paintings by the great masters of Spanish Art. Each artist’s work will be examined within a thematic context that relates to the condition, values and outlook of the society it depicts.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to apply critical skills in your analysis of paintings, understand the historical and social contexts in which artists worked, undertake bibliographical searches, and present informed opinions in written and oral form.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Following an introduction to the work of each artist, students will engage in discussion groups/workshops on specific themes, approaches and issues arising from a close study of selected paintings.


  • Seminar presentation + write-up of 1,500 words (15%)
  • In-class painting analysis (25%)
  • Essay of 2,500-3,000 words (60%)

Artists and Contexts of Study

  • Velázquez (1599-1660) Still life; Myth and Reality; Portraiture
  • Goya (1746-1828) Popular Culture; Social Satire; Political commentary
  • Picasso (1881-1973) Cubism, War and the Avant Garde

Key Background Texts

Recommended for purchase:

  • Janis A Tomlinson: Painting in Spain: El Greco to Goya, 1561-1828 (Harry N Abrams, 1997)
  • Norbert Wolf: Velázquez (Taschen, 2003)
  • Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen: Goya (Taschen, 2003)
  • Inigo F Walther: Picasso (Taschen, 2003)