Art History

Studying Art History in the Sixth Form at Alleyn’s is particularly enriching, given our close links with the Dulwich Picture Gallery and proximity to central London Galleries.

This exciting subject allows students to develop critical and analytical skills, together with acquiring an in-depth knowledge of a broad span of art history. Full of lively discussion and debate, Art History lessons fuel our pupils' deep, personal engagement with art.

Our students study the Pre U Art History course. In Year 12, they study and analyse a diverse range of 30 artworks, alongside an historically-based element that focuses on two contrasting periods: Eighteenth Century British Art and 20th Century Art. At the end of the year, they choose a theme for their independent investigation - an extended essay - and in Year 13, the topic of the nude is explored from ancient history to contemporary art.

Pre U Art History enriches students' understanding and enthusiasm, enabling them to develop well-informed personal opinions, and is pursued both with, and independently of, Pre U Art, with students going on to a variety of courses, including Classics at Cambridge, Art History degrees and Art Foundation courses at other top institutions.

Beyond the classroom, Art History has been further enriched by talks delivered by high-profile visiting speakers such as artist Humphrey Ocean RA and Jennifer Scott, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, as well as by a range of inspiring trips. These have included many outings to London art venues, including the Tate Galleries, a visit to artist and author, Edmund de Waal's studio, and the National Gallery, where our students recently enjoyed a tour given by Martin Wyld CBE, the gallery's former chief restorer. 

Yearly trips abroad to cities rich in art, such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Venice, are another highlight of the Art History year.


"I think it changes the way that you view art, just looking at artworks or going around a gallery, you tend to notice things that you wouldn't have before. You just think about it in a deeper way and that is really interesting. I think you appreciate it on a different level."

- Art History student

"Pleasure is the root of all critical appreciation of art."

- Robert Hughes, art critic, 1938-2012