Take a Closer Look: Online Art Appreciation Courses 2024

Take part in these very special online courses – wherever you are.

Scheduled for winter, spring and autumn, these 8-week evening courses are the perfect way to learn more about art. Discover little-known works from the Gallery’s collection, get to know old favourites in more depth, and explore other great collections of the world with our expert art historians and guest speakers.  

Each course will take place online using Zoom webinar and will include time for a question and answer session where you can put your questions and comments to the facilitators.

Not available every week? Each session will be recorded and made available to participants for two weeks afterwards to allow you to catch up, or watch again. Each session will be closed captioned live. 

Each course has a 1 week break in the middle. See exact dates below.

Upcoming courses:

Spring 2024: European Masters of the Baroque

19 March to 14 May

Join Dr Audrey Nicholls to learn more about the defining characteristics of Baroque art as well as the main historical, political, and socio-economic environment of the era. The evolution of art from the classical style of the Renaissance to the dramatic, emotional and exuberant Baroque style took place against a background of counter-reformation and the rise of the wealthy merchant class in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. This exciting – and sometimes shocking – style spread through Europe as tastes evolved. Beginning in Bologna and moving through Rome, Naples, Flanders, Spain, France and the Dutch Republic, this course will focus on the Baroque movement in Europe and its main protagonists, such as Caravaggio, Velazquez, Poussin, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Artworks from the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection will be discussed, as well as key works from collections worldwide.

This course has already started, but you can sign up until 3 April and catch-up on the first session! Contact Joanne Drum on +353 (0)1 663 3505 for more information.

Course dates:

  • Tuesdays, 6pm – 7.15pm
  • Course runs from 19 March - 14 May 2024 
  • Class held on: 19, 26 March; 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 April; 7, 14 May – note there is a break on 2 April)

Outline of Sessions 

Week 1: 19 March | Introduction: The Shock of the New 
After the symmetry and harmony of Renaissance art, and the short-lived and often difficult to interpret Mannerist style of art, Baroque art burst onto the art scene in Italy. We will look at this dramatic new departure and explore why it came about and the new ideals and characteristics that informed it. 

Week 2: 26 March | With guest speaker Dr Aoife Brady
This week, we are in conversation with Dr Aoife Brady Curator of Spanish and Italian Art in the National Gallery of Ireland, where we delve into the world of Caravaggio and his illustrious followers, the Caravaggisti. Our exploration will bring us face-to-face with The Taking of Christ, Caravaggio’s masterpiece of chiaroscuro and emotion. Dr Brady provides insightful commentary on the curatorial considerations that shape the presentation of these artworks, illuminating the dynamic relationships and dialogues created between them within the gallery space. 

Week 3: 9 April | With guest speaker Dr Caroline Campbell, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland 
In this session, Dr Campbell will focus on some of the leading women painters and draughtswomen of the Baroque period, and how their gender impacted on their production, focusing particularly on artists owned or displayed by the National Gallery of Ireland. 

Week 4: 16 April |Bernini’s Rome: Shaping the Eternal City
Gian Lorenzo Bernini is often considered the quintessential Baroque artist. A master sculptor and architect, he was also a painter, and an innovative stage designer. Bernini's multifaceted skill dictated the pulse of Rome's Baroque transformation. His genius played a pivotal role in forging the historical and architectural essence and legacy of the city. The vibrancy and intense emotion that radiate from his artworks are unparalleled. Bernini's enduring legacy reverberates through time, a clear testament to the profound and lasting impact of his vision. 

Week 5: 23 April | Rubens, Van Dyck and the Flemish Legacy 
Seventeenth-century Flanders saw a Golden Age for Flemish art. It was also a time of great political and economic turbulence. Artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens dominated the artistic scene with their Baroque style. Peter Paul Rubens, in particular, embodied the spirit of the Baroque. His paintings explode with colour, texture, movement, emotion and energy. His influence extended throughout Europe, and his studio attracted many apprentices who would go on to become renowned artists themselves. 

Week 6: 30 April | Classical Ideals and Pastoral Scenes: The Legacy of Poussin and Lorrain 
Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain were French although they spent the majority of their working lives in Rome. Poussin was instrumental in the development of the French Classical tradition, renowned for his rational and disciplined approach to painting. His fellow countryman, friend and neighbour, Claude, was a landscape painter whose idealised, pastoral landscapes had a considerable influence on landscape painting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

Week 7: 7 May | Beyond Portraiture: Dr Lizzie Marx on the Intriguing World of Tronies
Dr Lizzie Marx, Curator of Dutch and Flemish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, will join us to explore aspects of her current exhibition Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer, which delves into the genre of the 'tronie', the Old Dutch term for an enigmatic painting of a person’s face. This jaw-dropping exhibition features masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer among others, lighting up the gallery walls with their brilliance. Prior to Dr Marx’s discussion, we will explore the social, economic, and political tapestry of seventeenth-century Netherlands to enrich our appreciation and provide context. This prelude will set the stage for a better understanding of the epoch that gave rise to these timeless works of art. 

Week 8: 14 May | The Golden Age of Dutch Art
Having whetted our appetite for Netherlandish art last week, in this final week of the course we will end with the Golden Age of Dutch Art. During the seventeenth century the Netherlands became a leading power in trade, science, military achievements, and the arts. Amsterdam became one the most important and prosperous ports in the world. The rise of a wealthy merchant class enabled a thriving art market in which artists of remarkable ability flourished. 


  • €150 per course
  • Book tickets online now
  • Become a member today and enjoy 20% off the course fee, and many other exclusive benefits
  • 10% discount for over 65s/unwaged/students.
  • Buy a bundle of to attend all three upcoming courses and receive a discount

Buying this course as a gift? 

Once you have purchased the ticket, contact [email protected] to confirm the name of the recipient, and we will ensure they are sent all correspondence. If you would like us to send them an e-mail confirming that this was purchased as a gift for them, we can also do this.

About the tutor: 

Dr Audrey Nicholls is a freelance art historian, currently working as an occasional module co-ordinator and lecturer at the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin. Dr Nicholls is an experienced lecturer, and specialises in Renaissance and Baroque art. She was awarded a PhD from UCD in 2011.

Guest speakers: 

Dr Caroline Campbell, Director, National Gallery of Ireland; Dr Aoife Brady, Curator of Italian and Spanish Art, National Gallery of Ireland; Dr Lizzie Marx, Curator of Dutch and Flemish Art, National Gallery of Ireland.


Tickets on sale now:



NEXT COURSE - Autumn 2024: A Life Less Ordinary - Evolution of the Everyday 

1 October to 26 November

Take a walk through any gallery or museum and you will meet countless gods, kings and legends. However, hanging alongside these larger than life characters are scenes that explore the banality and complexity of human nature. Depictions of ordinary people in everyday settings have the power to arouse our curiosity, empathy and disgust. They add colour and texture to our understanding of the past.

This course is an exploration of everyday subject matter across cultures, and will move beyond the traditional understanding of genre work. Each session will cover a different theme: from the ancient world and the Dutch masters of genre painting, to Japanese ukiyo-e prints, the New York Ashcan, and Socialist Realism in Soviet Russia. Join Dr Sarah Wilson for an eight week course which proves that works of everyday life are anything but ordinary.

About the tutor:
Dr Sarah Wilson is an art historian specialising in Roman antiquity and religious identity. She has an undergraduate degree in Fine Art (DIT) and completed her postgraduate studies in Art History (UCD). She has developed several lecture series for the National Gallery of Ireland that encompass a broad range of topics from Classical influences to Japanese and Aboriginal art. Her essay on Magna Mater and the pignora imperii was published in Late Antique Palatine Architecture: Palaces and Palace Culture: Patterns of Transculturation (Brepols) in 2020.

Book here

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