Learning Resources - The Courtauld Institute of Art

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Learning Resources

Learning Resources

Although these resources were devised originally for teachers they are also a rich resource for anyone interested in the study of art history or in finding out more about artists’ practice to support their own. They include research by leading academics and insights from experts at The Courtauld along with interviews with practicing artists. Short suggestions of practical activities that could be adapted for any age or ability have been included to explore some of the ideas and themes.

Courtauld Portraiture Toolkit

Our Learning Department uses a combination of art history and practical art-based approaches to uncover the intentions and processes behind works of art, and to demonstrate that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. This method underpins the content and structure of this Portraiture Toolkit which comprises of; 4 Discuss sheets to help develop the art historical skills of looking, thinking and discussing works of art; a further 2 Create sheets addressing collage, printing and sketchbook skills; and lastly, 4 rich Artist’s Perspective sheets featuring conversations with contemporary artists who work on our learning programme, to demonstrate how art from the past can still be relevant today.

These 10 distinct sections are accompanied by a Portraiture Timeline which provides an overview of the major developments in portraiture using the Courtauld Collection, whilst highlighting key themes, technical advances, and the associated cultural and historical context. The resource also includes a library of 40 images of portraits in the Courtauld Collection, to be used in conjunction with these activities.

Download the Courtauld Portraiture Toolkit

Download the Courtauld Portraiture Timeline

Please email education@courtauld.ac.uk with your name, school’s name and address if you would like to be posted a hard copy of the resource.



Art and Maths in the Courtauld Collection

This learning resource reveals the fascinating connections between art and maths by exploring The Courtauld Gallery’s collections of Islamic metalwork and Italian Maiolica ceramics, and demonstrates how they can encourage your students to appreciate mathematics as an inter-connected discipline with a wide range of creative applications that can be used in school.

The accompanying lesson plan and student workbook relates to upper Key Stage 2 but can be adapted to suit other stages of learning.

Download the Art and Maths in the Courtauld Collection Learning Resource

Download the Art and Maths Lesson Plan

Download the Creative Connections Workbook, which includes various mathematical activities for students, based on designs in the Courtauld Collection

Download the Art and Maths Powerpoint Presentation to use in class or share with students


Face to Face: Portraits in The Courtauld Collection

The Face to Face: Portraits in The Courtauld Collection learning resource is for teachers to read and learn about the history of portraiture through The Courtauld Collection. This resource looks at different historical and social contexts to help develop a greater understanding of what portraiture is and how it has changed over time.

Face to Face: Portraiture in The Courtauld Collection  Learning Resource

The Face to Face: Portraits in The Courtauld Collection PowerPoint can be used in class or shared with your students.



Elucidations 2019


Elucidations is a learning resource that explores The Courtauld’s historic collection with 21st century eyes including within it a series of conversations between young contemporary practitioners and Courtauld staff. Cutting across genres, from painting and drawing to archives and conservation, it generates thinking around topics such as place, memory and identity, fashion, status and masculinity. Also showcased is a pilot project for secondary schools aimed at enhancing oracy skills through art.

Download this resource as a PDF

Our Learning Resources archive below focuses on the Gallery’s past exhibition programme, expanding on a key theme from an exhibition and exploring it in relation to the permanent collection.


Painting from life, portraits of everyday people

Using interviews with contemporary artists as well as considering the remarkable portraits of normal working people by Soutine this resource shares a range of approaches to painting from life. Rather than aiming for a realistic likeness emphasis is placed on how artists might use paint to explore a particular aspect of the human form whilst consideration is also given to the unique role of the sitter.

Suggested practical activity:

Ask someone in your household to sit for you for 15 minutes. You might want to ask them to wear a particular outfit. Don’t try to create a finished artwork, paint directly onto your paper and aim to convey something of their personality.

Alternatively, choose one detail of their form that really inspires you and make that your focus. You are not aiming for realism.

After 15 minutes ask them how it felt to sit for you. Maybe you could swap places.

Artist and Sitter Learning Resource

The Body in Motion

Artists, animators and illustrators frequently need to depict the human form in motion. This resource focusses on movement and gesture, exploring how Rodin captured the moving body, from everyday unselfconscious physical acts such as hair brushing to the extreme physical manipulations of a ballet dancer showcasing the body’s capabilities.

Suggested practical activity:

  1. Capture someone in an everyday action or gesture rather than a considered pose.
  2. Ask someone to pose in multiple extended positions exploring their range of movement.

For both activities work quickly to capture the sense of movement. You could set a number of short time limits.

The Body in Motion Learning Resource



Experiencing Landscape

Whether bird’s-eye, aerial, panoramic or immersive this resource about landscape takes painter Peter Lanyon’s advice and moves around the subject, taking the reader on a journey that includes glider flight, Constable’s clouds, Auerbach’s building sites, and Riley’s colour theory bringing the subject of Landscape Art alive.

Suggested practical activity:

Photograph the sky from your window. Note the date, time and weather conditions. Do this on a regular basis for a period of time then compare the results.

Experiencing the Landscape Learning Resource


For further resources:


Regarde! Resources

These Regarde! activities are all connected to specific works in The Courtauld Gallery collection. They are taken from our Teachers Resources produced during our temporary exhibitions. Feel free to download or browse through these resources to prepare or follow up on a visit to our gallery.

The Courtauld Cézannes: landscapes and the concept of nature in Cézanne’s works
Cézanne, The Card Players
Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril at the entrance of the Moulin Rouge and ‘Gay Paris’
The Omega workshop and Post-Impressionism
Florentine wedding chests, The Courtauld Cassoni
Women in French drawings from the 18th and 19th century
Michelangelo, The Dream – Love sonnets in the early 16th century – IN ITALIAN
Mondrian in Paris, 1911 – 1940
Poetry in Post-War France, Jacques Prevert

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