Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London

Course No. 7544
Professor Catherine B. Scallen, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University
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Course No. 7544
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Course Overview

Of all the world's great art museums, the National Gallery, London is the only place where you can truly grasp the breathtaking scope of European painting between 1200 and 1900. Established in 1824, the National Gallery was commissioned as the people's museum—a cultural institution meant to reflect the artistic legacy both of Great Britain and of the European continent. Inside its halls are more than 2,500 European paintings by some of Western civilization's greatest masters, including Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt.

Today, the National Gallery is one of the top five tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. Each year, more than 5 million people explore the gallery's impressive collections, including its renowned and respected holdings in Italian Renaissance art and 17th-century Dutch and Flemish painting. To browse through the hallways and wings of the National Gallery is to witness the powerful evolution both of European painting and the European history that it represents.

Now you can take a virtual tour of this world-class collection through Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London. In 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Catherine B. Scallen, a noted art scholar at Case Western Reserve University, offers a memorable introduction to this remarkable artistic institution and its rich collection of masterworks.

But this is more than just a gallery tour. This course also offers a breathtaking and comprehensive overview of the history of European painting. The National Gallery holds one of the finest collections of European painting from the late medieval period to the beginning of the 20th century. Raphael and Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens, Poussin and Claude, Velazquez and Goya, Gainsborough and Turner—these are just a few of the great masters whose works are represented in the National Gallery's outstanding collection.

Britain's National Treasure

Your tour begins with an introduction that highlights the gallery's unique history, cultural mission, and aesthetic focus. Unlike many national art collections, which developed according to the whims of the ruling monarch, the National Gallery was established and planned with a clear strategy: to amass a sumptuous collection of art that celebrates the zenith of achievement in European painting.

In the first lecture, you gain an appreciation for the careful forethought and commitment to public art that has informed the development of this exceptional collection and has preserved it as a national treasure for the British people.

You hear, for example, the story of how, during World War II, the entire collection was transported to Wales to ensure its safety. Between 1939 and 1946, a single painting from the collection was returned to London for display each month as a patriotic reminder of the nation's great cultural heritage.

Professor Scallen uses the special access she was given to the gallery to guide you through the physical layout of this grand institution, including an exclusive peek into its many supporting departments, such as these:

  • The Framing Department, where experts choose antique frames to accent these masterpieces
  • The Scientific Department, where scientists study pigments and other media used by the masters
  • The Conservation Department, where the collection's paintings undergo routine cleaning and repair

700 Years of European Masterpieces

Because of its history and mission, the National Gallery is able to offer something truly unique: a collection of paintings that represents the "best of the best" of European art. To walk its galleries is to sample nearly seven centuries of famed masterworks and lesser-known but equally beautiful treasures.

Here are just a few of the works Professor Scallen has selected for your consideration:

  • Leonardo da Vinci's full-scale preparatory drawing of Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist, the only such preparatory drawing by Leonardo to survive
  • Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors, a masterpiece that juxtaposes a vision of Renaissance achievement with a distorted image of a skull—a reminder of the fleeting nature of worldly accomplishments
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder's Flowers in a Vase, in which the artist brings together flowers that bloom in different seasons in an idealized vision of floral splendor
  • A remarkable comparison of self-portraits of Rembrandt in youth and old age—an exploration of the trajectory of the master's growth as an artist and as a human being
  • Van Gogh's A Wheatfield, with Cypresses, painted during his stay in a mental institution, in which he used the flow of paint and pattern to capture the sense of nature as well as his own response to it

View These Masterworks from All Angles

As you encounter each of these great paintings, you gain an appreciation not only for this collection but also for the art of painting itself through fascinating facts and anecdotes:

  • A description of standard techniques such as undermodelling—the underlying layer of paint used by medieval artists to provide a unifying tone and define shadows
  • An analysis of a wide variety of painting styles, such as Leonardo's use of sfumato ("smoky" blended edges); Titian's use of his fingers to blend paint; and Velázquez's heavily textured use of impasto (small raised areas of paint)
  • An explanation of the painters' materials, such as the difference between oil and tempera paints, and the lavish use of ultramarine, an expensive pigment made with lapis lazuli
  • The use of cutting-edge technology by modern art historians to shed light on the artistic process, as seen in Raphael's Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist (studied with infrared reflectography) and Titian's Noli Me Tangere (analyzed using x-radiography)

Professor Scallen also tells stories of the artists' lives and times to broaden your understanding of the place of art in history. For example, you learn how the dreaded Black Death suppressed artistic development during the Middle Ages; how the iconoclasm of Calvinism helped create a new market for painting; and how Degas' declining eyesight may have contributed to his signature style.

The Finest of European Painting—in One Museum

Whether you're planning a trip to London or simply want to enjoy the best of European painting, Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London offers a breathtaking introduction to this institution and its many treasures.

And, as you find, Professor Scallen is the perfect guide. Listening to her explicate these great works is like having a very smart friend, who also happens to be an expert in art, take you on a stroll through the gallery. Deeply learned, passionate about her subject, she has a rare gift for communicating the power of these great works, even if this is your first foray into the world of European painting. And if you already know and love these masterworks, Professor Scallen will surprise you with unexpected insights and keen observations that will help you see them with new eyes.

Join Professor Scallen and see why the National Gallery, London is not only the pride of Great Britain, it's a treasure trove to be savored by anyone who appreciates fine art.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Story of the National Gallery, London
    The history of the National Gallery is nearly as intriguing as its masterpieces. In your introduction to this great collection, you learn the story behind its founding, take a quick tour of the galleries' floor plan, and get a sneak peek behind the scenes to see how these masterpieces are preserved and exhibited. x
  • 2
    Late Medieval Painting
    You begin your tour in the Sainsbury wing, which displays the gallery's European paintings from 1250 to 1500. This lecture examines the late medieval "Italo-Byzantine" style, in which artists borrowed techniques from the art of the eastern Roman Empire to depict religious topics. x
  • 3
    Early Renaissance Italian Painting
    Moving into the 15th century, you witness a shift from a medieval Gothic-inspired aesthetic to the more naturalistic approach to art that was pioneered in the Renaissance. Masterpieces such as Uccello's Battle of San Romano reflect a new interest in secular topics and the development of more convincing perspective systems. x
  • 4
    Netherlandish Portraits and Devotional Images
    Netherlandish painters of the 15th century were also interested in a more naturalistic style, but they pursued that aim through a detailed optical illusionism rather than the use of linear perspective. The works of Jan Van Eyck and Geertgen tot sint Jans demonstrate the achievements of this tradition. x
  • 5
    Florence—Center of 15th-Century Italian Art
    The art of Florence represents a high point in Renaissance painting. Here, you examine works of some of the most accomplished artists of this region, including Sandro Botticelli, Piero di Cosimo, and the Netherlandish transplant to Italy, Justus of Ghent. x
  • 6
    15th-Century Venetian Art
    From about 1440 onward, elements of the new Renaissance artistic style began to appear in the art of northern Italy. Great artists of this tradition, including Andrea Mantegna and Antonello da Messina, adapted Florentine innovations, creating a new style that emphasized color and light. x
  • 7
    The High Renaissance in Central Italy
    The National Gallery's collection of paintings from the High Renaissance includes some of the most renowned artists of the period, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Glimpse their masterpieces as well as works by lesser-known but still quite remarkable artists of the period. x
  • 8
    Titian and His Venetian Contemporaries
    The National Gallery has an unsurpassed group of paintings by Renaissance master Titian that represents his great achievements from 1510 to the 1570s. Here, you examine some of Titian's masterworks alongside paintings by two of his early contemporaries. x
  • 9
    Venetian Masters—Tintoretto and Veronese
    While Titian was the dominant figure in 16th-century Venice, many other fine painters flourished there as well, including Tintoretto and Veronese. Their works, such as Tintoretto's Saint George and the Dragon, demonstrate these artists' masterful use of rich brushwork, light, and color. x
  • 10
    Painting for the Courts, c. 1515–1575
    Mannerism began to develop out of the High Renaissance style around 1520; it emphasized above all the virtuosity of the artist. View some of the finest examples of this style, including Correggio's The School of Love and Barocci's The Madonna and Child with Saint Joseph and the Infant Baptist. x
  • 11
    Northern European Masters—Bosch to Bruegel
    Northern European painters of the 16th century were no less innovative than their Italian counterparts. From the psychological intensity of Bosch's Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns) to Hans Holbein's remarkable portraits of the English court, you examine this rich tradition. x
  • 12
    The Innovation of Carracci and Caravaggio
    By the beginning of the 17th century, great artists such as Annibale Carracci and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio initiated an artistic revival in the Eternal City after a century of strife. Examine some of the National Gallery's greatest examples from this period, including Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus. x
  • 13
    The Rise of French Art—Poussin and Claude
    The 17th century was a golden age for French painting. You study the achievements of two revered painters of this period, Poussin and Claude Lorrain, both of whom combined history subjects with landscape in inventive ways. x
  • 14
    Flemish Masters—Rubens and Van Dyck
    The National Gallery offers the rare opportunity to examine the careers of two major 17th-century Flemish painters, Rubens and Van Dyck, as seen in a range of great paintings, including Rubens's Samson and Delilah and The Judgment of Paris and Van Dyck's Equestrian Portrait of Charles I. x
  • 15
    A Golden Age of Spanish Painting
    The intensity found in the art of El Greco, a native of Crete whose career flourished in the 16th century, set the stage for huge developments in 17th-century Spanish art. Explore the National Gallery's remarkable collection of Spanish masters, such as Zurbarán, Velázquez, and Murillo. x
  • 16
    Dutch History, Portraiture, Genre Scenes
    In this first of three lectures on 17th-century Dutch painting, you take a close look at a selection of Dutch history paintings, portraits, and scenes of daily life and see how these works reflected the larger commercial market for art during this period. x
  • 17
    Dutch Still Lifes, Townscapes, Landscapes
    Next, you turn from the human figure to the depiction of objects, buildings, and scenery in Dutch painting, exemplified in such masterworks as Hobbema's Avenue at Middelharnis and Cuyp's River Landscape with Horsemen and Peasants. x
  • 18
    The Genius of Rembrandt
    Unlike most Dutch artists of his time, Rembrandt did not specialize in one kind of subject, instead producing masterful portraits, religious scenes, and scenes of life. Trace the career of this most famous 17th-century Dutch artist from his first years of success in Amsterdam through his full maturity. x
  • 19
    Venetian and Spanish Masters, c. 1740–1820
    Starting with Giovanni Antonio Canal ("Canaletto"), you enter a new artistic world as seen in the grand decorative and history paintings of 18th-century Venice, while in the collection of Spanish paintings you encounter the dramatic still lifes of Melendez and striking portraits by Goya. x
  • 20
    The Charms of 18th-Century French Painting
    With its light-hearted subject matter, French painting of the 18th century contrasts strongly with the works of the previous century. Examine key examples of this charming era, including Lancret's Lady in a Garden Taking Coffee and Boucher's Pan and Syrinx, as well as a fascinating series of portraits. x
  • 21
    British Painting Comes of Age
    British painting first flourished as an independent school in the 18th century. From William Hogarth's seriocomic Marriage A-la-Mode to the astonishing full-scale portrait of a horse by George Stubbs, Whistlejacket, you view breathtaking instances of British innovation. x
  • 22
    British and French Masters, c. 1785–1860
    Nature became the focus of painters in the late 18th- and early 19th-centuries, as British artists such as Gainsborough and Constable produced remarkable landscapes. Nature studies also dominated the work of French artists, as seen in Géricault's Horse Frightened by Lightning and Courbet's Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine. x
  • 23
    Impressionism in France
    Here, you explore the radical shift in vision undertaken by the Impressionists, represented in the National Gallery collection by some of the greatest masters, including Manet (Music in the Tuileries Gardens), Monet (The ater-Lily Pond), and Renoir (At the Theater). x
  • 24
    Following an examination of the National Gallery's remarkable collection of works by Degas, you conclude your tour with a selection of paintings by some of the most renowned Post-Impressionists. Highlights include Van Gogh's Sunflowers and striking works by Seurat and Rousseau. x

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  • 200-page printed course guidebook
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider
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Your professor

Catherine B. Scallen

About Your Professor

Catherine B. Scallen, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Catherine B. Scallen is Associate Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she has been teaching for more than 10 years. She earned her undergraduate degree in history from Wellesley College as a Wellesley Scholar. She went on to earn her M.A. with honors from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and her Ph.D. in Art History from Princeton University....
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Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 50.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I can't wait to visit The course offers an interesting glimpse into the National Gallery, with plenty of gorgeous art. The professor is interesting and her presentation good, although she seems bound to her notes, and her hair regularly falling across her face is distracting. She duly reports that the gallery's collection is limited to European painting through 1900. What she didn't say is that it is limited to WESTERN European painting -- Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish and English. Thus you will see nothing by German artists like Friedrich and Menzel, Russian masters like Ivan Aivasovsky and Ilya Repin, or the great art of Poland, Austria, Hungary and Scandinavia. But given those restrictions, the course is worthwhile.
Date published: 2018-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent presentation I very much enjoyed the presentation by professor Scallen - She selected a very interesting collection of paintings that gave the viewer student an overview of the best of the museums art. I have visited this museum and would like to have heard her lectures before I went. The course was nicely paced and contained just enough information that I did not feel overwhelmed. This is the second course I have viewed by Dr. Scallen , and I highly recommend her.
Date published: 2018-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Introduction to a Great Museum If you are going, or have been, to The National Gallery of London, this is a very worthwhile course. It provides an expert, insightful, and balanced overview of the collection. Each considered painting is discussed in historical and biographical, as well as artistic, context, adding to our understanding. And, as an artistic novice, I greatly appreciated being immersed in an art scholar's consideration of the pertinent attributes of each painting, from tone and brush stroke and proportion to chiaroscuro and the fourth wall, as well as the meaning and significance of the depictions of both primary subjects and minor objects and creatures which, on my own, I simply would not be able to interpret. As others have noted, Professor Scallen's expertise and love for the art are unfortunately not matched by her public speaking. She is clearly reading, in a voice which tends to an unvarying, sing-song modulation, and her constant hand gestures can be distracting. Nevertheless, I do recommend the course for any with an interest in London's National Gallery. And, for any with a general interest in art I even more highly recommend Professor Scallen's outstanding course on Art of the Northern Renaissance.
Date published: 2018-11-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good content, mediocre presentation As a broad survey of art at the National Gallery, the course was adequate enough to hold my interest through 36 lectures. I felt like I cam away with an appreciation for the art at the museum, and the instructor added pretty good supplemental content focused on the technique and styles of the artists. I will say the presentation by the instructor was very mediocre. She spent almost the entire 36 lectures reading from notes, which is very distraction to me. I almost never see a professional reading from notes these days. Good teaching should involve a lot of eye contact, and a relaxed conversational tone of voice and presentation. Overall, I am glad I watched the course, but I would prefer a different style of presentation by an instructore
Date published: 2018-09-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Content, Presentation Could Be Improved While the content of this course is extensive and interesting, I feel that the lecturer relied on an excessive amount of hand gestures, as well as providing the course information mostly from prepared notes, giving her attention to these notes too often.
Date published: 2018-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good preparation for a National Gallery visit I bought this course to prepare for our trip to London and a visit to the National Gallery. I've been before, but thought we would get more out of our visit if we knew more about some of the paintings. We're partially through this course. The instructor is really knowledgeable, and I feel like I'm learning a lot, but the lecture is very scholarly and a bit difficult to watch. Think of it as an upper division college lecture where you need to be attentive and take notes, and you'll feel right at home. Her teaching style is a little stiff and formal. Stick with it though, and you'll learn quite a lot. I know we'll love seeing the paintings that we learned so much about.
Date published: 2018-06-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London I bought this because I was in London last year but did not visit The Gallery as hoped. I gave this course 3 stars because the information I have seen so far while very informative I found the professors body movements to be very distracting. She waves her hands and rocks side to side often. Because I have seen only one video so far, I am thinking it might be best to just listen to her, although I would be missing some of the visual tools she displays, at least I would get much of the information.
Date published: 2018-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Passionate and Knowledgeable Guide Catherine Scallon is an incomparable guide to the National Gallery, London. She is extremely knowledgeable about the collection and passionate about the museum. She selects the most representative paintings and explicates their context and significance! I couldn't ask for a better introduction to a museum I will be visiting soon!
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful course I really enjoyed the passion of the professor and the great information provided
Date published: 2018-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, well focused, course I've been to the National Gallery 5 times and will return again later this year. The National Gallery only collects European painting from the late medieval times until around the early 20th century. This course gives an excellent overview of the collection as well as an introductory lecture on the history of the museum. The course can also serve as a nice introductory class to European painting.
Date published: 2017-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scallen is great, terrific course I love art history, but I've never been a fan of Kloss Scallen is a much better lecturer and her material is first class. I've never been to the National Gallery, but after after watching her course, I'm dying to go.
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very knowledgeable presenter I bought this course just prior to a visit to the National Gallery. It greatly enhanced our visit and was wonderful to watch a second time when we got home. The professor is highly knowledgeable and knows the art as well as the building intimately. Her style is fairly dry (we have another course by her which is just as excellent and perhaps just as dry) and it would be nice if she didn't stand behind the podium as much and maybe smiled a bit more. But this is a really superb course and I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another winner While I have yet to visit the National Gallery in London, I have viewed a number of art related TGC's courses where famous paintings and sculpture from the National Gallery has been highlighted. So I was very interested in purchasing this course and I was not disappointed. From the first lecture, you sense that you are being presented with many of the most important art works in the museum. Prof Scallen is very easy to listen to and of course, very knowledgeable. As with the other TGC courses on on the two other great art museums - the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY and the Louvre in Paris - this course rounds out the series very nicely. thanks for making these courses (of this style) available. For other courses, I would also recommend the Frick in NY, the Borghese in Rome, the Vatican Museums in Rome, the Uffizi in Florence (which is covered some in the The Guide to Essential Italy - but could be an entire stand alone course), the Kunstmuseum in Basel and the Kunst Historisches Museum in Wien (Vienna), J Paul Getty Museum in California, the Chicago Art Museum and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to name a few others. Keep the series coming. Thanks Paul Floyd, Mpls, MN.
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Museum Masterpieces: The National Gallery, London This was a very good course. It was well presented and covered a wide range of painting from the 13th century to the 19th century. I have put the the National Gallery on my bucket list of places to visit.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good so far. I am only 1/4 through this course, having received it only recently. Still wading through the early religious paintings, not my favorites to be sure. Professor is "stuck" to the podium and depends on notes too much for my taste ( I myself am a Full Professor of Preclinical Medicine). But, she really understands the subject and delivers it in an organized and rational fashion. I like how she often remembers that this is not just art history, but specifically discussions of the particular art of the British National Gallery. Her comments in this vein lend extra value for me. Frankly, as I progress here in the series my current rating of "4" is likely to improve somewhat.
Date published: 2016-11-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really learned a lot I agree with the reviewers who found her style of presentation less than inspiring. However, she really researched these paintings and there was more depth than in any other lectures/guided tours I've attended. I will definitely enjoy my planned visit to this museum much more than I would have without this course.. I learned so much and isn't that the main purpose of watching these courses?
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Fine Opportunity Missed Having, at long last, completed Professor Scallen's course, I revisited her course on Art of the Northern Renaissance to remind myself if that previous course was likewise such a struggle for me to finish. It was not, but I suspect that that course provided Professor Scallen with richer pickings than her having to troll through one museum, albeit a great one. Let me say that, on the one hand, I am bothered by some of the truly tasteless comments that have been posted about Professor Scallen's presentation. In fact, she appears to be a competent scholar, but (and I will try to be kinder than some) it appears she has crafted a manuscript for a book and has then chosen to deliver it orally. It simply fails to engage, and the production team for this course should have seen this coming. I wish, for Professor Scallen's sake, that she had found some way of getting out of the way of a pleasurable viewing of this fine collection. I find it hard to believe that, were I sitting in on one of her actual campus lectures, it would be such a numbing experience. Not all can bring Art History to us like a Kloss or a Brettell or a Soltes. Still, it disappoints me that, unlike any other Fine Arts course from the Teaching Company, i cannot foresee viewing it again.
Date published: 2014-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Art history with rich historical context This is not a superficial, dumbed-down survey. It is a comprehensive, in-depth look at some of the most beautiful paintings in the National Gallery. The Professor provides fascinating information on the technical aspects of the artists' production methods, historical context of their creation, comparisons with the works of other artists and biographical details. This is a dream come true for me.
Date published: 2014-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a good, not great course. Dr Scallen has a straight foreword style. While not exciting, she gets her ideas across. This course is a general review of painting from 12th to 20 century. Production values are also well done. Lacking the elegance and passion of Dr Kloss's lectures: but worthwhile. Certainly LONDON GALLERY is one 0f world's are treasures.
Date published: 2013-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from basically art history My husband and I plan to visit the National Gallery this summer, so we purchased this course to get an idea of what to expect. This is probably more an art history course than lectures on the National Gallery itself. The professor just uses the National Gallery art to illustrate her lectures. Since we had already viewed several other art history courses from the Great Courses, we felt the material and even the paintings were somewhat repetitious. It was always a case of, "Oh yes, I remember this one from that other course we saw." Frankly, I enjoyed her course on "Northern Renaissance Art" more than this one. That said, I now have in mind a number of "must see" paintings to look for on our visit. If you haven't already taken in other art courses from different professors and are planning to visit the National Gallery in London, then by all means view this course.
Date published: 2013-04-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A pleasure I learned things about art and artists in this course that I never knew before, and I've taken a number of very comprehensive art history and appreciation courses. Since I'm unlikely to actually go to this museum, I found this an enjoyable and worthwhile use of time. I think other reviewers are unnecessarily harsh about the instructor's presentation style. Yes, she does wave her hands about quite a bit but I didn't think it was distracting. When we invite professors into our home, it's nice to find them endearing, knowledgable, and entertaining guests - and Ms. Scallen was all those things.
Date published: 2013-03-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sad Sad Sad I have spent lots of time at the National Gallery and I was hoping that spending 12 hours on this class, I was hoping that my next visit there would be somewhat enlightening, but I do not believe this will be the case. I will not be as brutal on my review as a previous contributor (ad2000) but I fully agree with his assessment and I will say that this class is tough to take. I am not quite sure how one teaches a class on a museum, but this is certainly not it. The professor could have very easily gone through a bunch of paintings and then at the end say, "oh, by the way, these are all paintings that you will find in the National Gallery." Professor Scallen, when discussing a particular painting, reads a set of notes that she clearly has prepared a priori or has taken out of some source, she does not "teach" (and again, I am not sure exactly what I expected, maybe she could have gone through a painting and say why the curator found it necessary to buy it for the collection, or why is this painting, in the context of others there, or how does it complement the collection, etc.??) When the professor wasn't reading her notes and was talking extemporaneously, clearly something at what she was versed, she was waving her hands as much as a bad ballet conductor. This was extremely distracting. Another problem with this class is that there is lots of material being spewed, dates, locations, painter, names; none of which I can now remember. Was Da Vinci from Venice or Florence, why was he called Hyrolemus (sp?) Bosch??? I believe that if she would have selected many less paintings and gone through them in great particularity, and associate them to why the National Gallery was so intent in having it, or how did it come to get it, or did they ever lend it out to other museums, what sorts of insurance would they demand to let it out of their grasp?...I do not know, but those are the sorts of things that would have been of interest as to the gallery itself, not to a bunch a paintings, I might have though better of this class. Like I said, I do not know what I was expecting but this clearly was not it!!
Date published: 2012-11-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Boring, boring, boring! I am slogging through the course because we plan to visit the National Gallery in the future. I agree with the other reviewers who say that Prof. Scallen does nothing to engage those of us who are not art history aficionados and has a wooden presentation style. As someone with minimal art history background, I need to know more about the personal "stories" of the painters or their subjects to keep my interest. Instead, Prof. Scallen tells us when, where and for whom a painting was done, describes what is going on in the painting and comments on why it is appealing aesthetically. While she does comment to a certain extent on the painter's artistic peculiarities and strengths and artistic trends of the time, she doesn't do so in a way that is particularly memorable and I found that I couldn't remember what distinguished one painter from another after listening to several lectures - in fact, the info started to blur together to the extent that I began to have difficulty recalling what I had previously learned in the art history classes I have taken! I imagine that the course will prove useful when I do visit the National Gallery in that when I see a painting from the course, I'll know it's important and remember having seen it before, but rather than wasting your money on this course, borrow it from a public library. (I would hate to have to take one of the professor's midterms!)
Date published: 2012-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Immerse Yourself in the National Professor Scallen obviously believes the National Gallery to be her home-away-from-home. She seems to know every nook and cranny. As we all know, one of the problems with major museums and galleries is there is too much to see. Few have time for everything, so I used this course as a primer for a visit to the National. This worked out splendidly, and provided a most enjoyable few hours. Even if you never get to London, you will most certainly benefit from these edifying lectures.
Date published: 2011-04-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I waited in great anticipation for this course to come after having watched your excellent program on the Met in New York and could not have been more disapointed. Your professor could do little more than read off of her notes and continually throw dates at me. In all I walked away with a feeling that I had wasted my time and money.
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable and worthwhile The paintings highlighted were interesting and the quality of the information provided was outstanding. Dr. Scallen has produced a very effective course.
Date published: 2010-09-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A tragedy Wonderful, beautiful art with an opportunity to enjoy viewing on a level with the other brilliant lectures on art furnished by the Teaching Company is almost ruined by the dreadful lecturer. It's difficult to determine if Dr. Scallen is just bored or is merely incompetent as a lecturer for the Teaching Company courses. There are also far too many shots of her wandering around the museum without any purpose. Who wants to see her rather than more pictures of the museum's possessions. It's painful to endure her interference with the pleasure of viewing the subjects, although the art by itself is a great addition to the Teaching Company's series on art all of which I own.
Date published: 2010-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A motivating tour Professor Scallen presented a comprehensive guide to many of the great paintings in the Gallery, and an easy to understand overview of the layout. Her passion for the subject matter is clear, and infectious. I found her right arm movements somewhat distracting, and would have preferred more direct eye contact with the camera, but still thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series. I was left with a desire to be able to visit these treasures in real life, given the opportunity.
Date published: 2010-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from get over it Professor Scallen presented a thoutful, well prepared and passionate series on one of the most important collections of paintings in the world. I was a young and an impressionable man when I saw it 30 years ago for the fiirst time. I went back twice more and each time I had new discoveries. Scallen presented the collection in a brilliant light. Yes, she is not the smoothest presenter (have you ever try this? it took me over 20 years to become comfortable to speak in public) focus on her expertise, he passion for the art, her knolwedge: it grows on you! This is a wonderful and valuable series. You must get it. I will go back to it many times!
Date published: 2010-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Lectures I went to London last year for the first time is a long time. Durning that visit, I went to the National Gallery. I was very impressed by the collection there. Since I had enjoyed the other two Teaching Company courses on museums, I thought this course would be worth buying. I was not disappointed. I enjoyed listening to these lectures so much that I decided to get Professor Scallen other Teaching Company course. As far as I am concerned, I can't give her any higher praise.
Date published: 2010-04-24
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