Course detail

19th Century Art History Overview

FaVU-1PDU-19Acad. year: 2023/2024

The lecture series introduces students to 19th-century painting, sculpture, architecture and urbanism and to defining contemporary theories. Instruction is introduced by presenting basic cultural theses and ideological concepts of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in a Euro-American context. In the fields of painting, sculpture, and applied arts, it focuses on the prevailing tendencies - classicism, pre-Romanticism, romanticism, Biedermeier, realism, impressionism, or symbolism - and in the field of architecture, on the stylistic positions of the receding Baroque, state classicism, neo-Palladianism, romanticism, and strict historicism, up to the advent of modernism. Attention is also paid to questions of style, function, artistic role, archaeology and conservation. Topics such as the birth of civil society and the emergence of its institutions, the shaping of public space, and the relationship of art and architecture to the representation of the political order are also examined. World trends are compared with local Central European developments. The interpretation also includes the emergence and establishment of public art museums and picture galleries as part of the process of making culture and education accessible to the wider society.


Language of instruction


Number of ECTS credits


Mode of study

Not applicable.

Entry knowledge

Knowledge of 19th century art and architectural history at the high school level; general overview of the cultural and political history of the period.


Rules for evaluation and completion of the course

The following conditions are set for the award of the grade:

  • active participation in class (70%)
  • passing final written test

Classes are held in the classrooms of the Department of Theory and History of Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Brno University of Technology in Brno in the hours determined by the timetable. The excursion may be situated on working days when standard teaching is not taking place. Attendance is compulsory (3 unexcused absences allowed). Higher numbers of absences may be compensated by submitting alternative assignments in agreement with the teachers.



The aim of the course is to provide students with an overview of the defining artistic movements, theoretical concepts, developmental tendencies and authorial approaches in the field of painting, sculpture, applied art and architecture of the 19th century. Particular emphasis is placed on the interconnection of art and architecture with the socio-political framework, the function of the artwork, representation and the position of the artist. Topics such as modernity, national liberation and revival movements, the democratization of society and the autonomy of art are also examined. The course introduces students to these topics through lectures, readings and interpretations of contemporary and current texts, presentations with discussions, and field trips. They will become familiar with the political, social and ideological background of the artistic production of the period under study, whose manifestations they will be able to critically reflect, analyse and interpret in terms of contemporary art history theory and methodology.


Students will be able to define the basic concepts of painting, sculpture, applied art and architecture of the “long nineteenth century” in a broader social, cultural and political context. At the same time, they can identify, describe and interpret the basic stylistic tendencies and key works of art and architecture of the period under study and relate them to contemporary theoretical concepts against the background of current art history theory and methodology.


Upon completion of the course, the learner will acquire the ability to:

  • identify, describe and interpret the main stylistic characteristics of 19th century works of art
  • understand the historical, political and philosophical contexts that shaped the production and reception of art and architecture of the period under study and the ways in which prevailing cultural norms and values were reflected and manifested or challenged
  • analyse and compare the different styles, media and techniques applied in 19th century art and architecture and recognise their regional and temporal differences, as well as their cultural and social meanings
  • know the major artists, patrons and institutions that shaped the development of 19th century art and architecture
  • define the socio-political and power relations that enabled the creation and dissemination of works of art
  • think critically and strengthen communication skills through the study of specialist texts, visual materials and active participation in group projects and discussions
  • become aware of the ethical, aesthetic and epistemological issues raised by the study of 19th century art and architecture and the ways in which they intersect with wider debates in art history, cultural studies and the humanities more generally
  • speak and write insightfully about 19th century art and architecture 

Study aids

Not applicable.

Prerequisites and corequisites

Not applicable.

Basic literature

Veronika Hulíková – Otto M. Urban – Filip Wittlich (eds.), Umění dlouhého století 1796–1918. Portrét sbírky NGP. Praha 2019.
Vojtěch Lahoda – Mahulena Nešlehová, (eds), Dějiny českého výtvarného umění 1890/1938 (IV/ 1, 2), Praha 1998.
Helena Lorencová – Taťána Petrasová (eds.), Dějiny českého výtvarného umění 1780/1890 (III/1, 2), Praha 2001.
Jindřich Vybíral, Česká architektura na prahu moderní doby. Devatenáct esejů o devatenáctém století, Praha 2002.

Recommended reading

Katarína Beňová, Z akademie do přírody. Podoby krajinomalby ve střední Evropě 1860–1890, Brno 2018.
Naděžda Blažíčková-Horová (ed.), České malířství 19. století. Katalog stálé expozice Sbírky umění 19. století Národní galerie v Praze, Klášter sv. Anežky České, Praha 1998.Naděžda Blažíčková-Horová – Šárka Leubnerová – Tomáš Sekyrka, Umění 19. století v Čechách (1790–1910). Malířství, sochařství a užité umění. Národní galerie v Praze, Klášter sv. Jiří na Pražském hradě. Průvodce expozicí, Praha 2009.
Pavla Cenková, Vkusné a solidní. Měšťanské sochařství v Brně 1800–1880, Brno 2013.
Thijs Dekeukeleire – Henk de Smaele – Marjan Sterckx, Male Bonds in Nineteenth-century art, Leuven 2022.
Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities of To-morrow, London 1902.
Lada Hubatová Vacková – Tomáš Zapletal (eds.), Gottfried Semper. Věda, průmysl a umění
Věda, průmysl a umění, Praha 2016.
René Huyghe et al., Umění nové doby, Praha 1974.
Tomáš Jiránek – Milena Lenderová – Marie Macková, Z dějin české každodennosti. Život v 19. století, Praha 2017.
Michal Konečný, Zámek Lednice, Kroměříž 2017.
Michal Konečný, Zámek Valtice, Kroměříž 2018.
Jiří Kuthan, Aristokratická sídla v českých zemích 1780–1914, Praha 2014.
Robin Middleton – David Watkin, Architecture of the Nineteenth Century, London – New York 2003.
Helena Musilová, Pražská Pallas a moravská Hellas 1902. Auguste Rodin v Praze a na Moravě, Brno 2022.
Roman Prahl et al., Umění náhrobku v českých zemích let 1780–1830, Praha 2004.
Robert Rosenblum – Horst Woldemar Janson, 19th-Century Art, New Jersey 2005. (EN)
John Ruskin, Pre-Raphaelitism and Notes on the Principal Pictures in the Royal Academy, the Society of Painters in Water Colours, etc., London 1910. (EN)
Milan Řepa (ed.), 19. století v nás: modely, instituce a reprezentace, které přetrvaly, Praha 2008.
Edward W. Said, Orientalismus. Západní koncepce Orientu, Praha 2008.
Camillo Sitte, Stavba měst podle uměleckých zásad, Brno 2012.
Virginia Smith, Dějiny čistoty a osobní hygieny, Praha 2011.
David Venclík, Schmidtův Karlštejn. Neogotická rekonstrukce středověkého hradu na pozadí doby, Umění LXI, 2013, č. 5, s. 422–436.
Vojtěch Volavka, České malířství a sochařství 19. století, Praha 1968.
Radim Vondráček (ed.), Biedermeier. Umění a kultura v českých zemích 1814–1848, Praha 2008.
Jindřich Vybíral (ed.), Síla i budoucnost jest národu národnost/The Stregth and Future of the Nation is National Identity, Praha 2020.
Petr Wittlich, Auguste Rodin, Praha 2021.
Pavel Zatloukal, Příběhy z dlouhého století. Architektura let 1750–1918. Architektura let 1750–1918 na Moravě a ve Slezsku, Olomouc 2002.
Pavel Zatloukal, Brněnská architektura 1815–1915. Průvodce, Brno 2006.
Pavel Zatloukal, Meditace o architektuře. Olomouc – Brno – Hradec Králové 1815–1915, Řevnice 2016.

Classification of course in study plans

  • Programme VUM_B Bachelor's, 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory

  • Programme VUB Bachelor's

    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-VT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory
    branch VU-IDT , 2. year of study, summer semester, compulsory

Type of course unit



24 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer


    1. The French Revolution. The upheaval of the aristocracies and the emergence of new social classes. The social and economic-political situation of the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a starting point and background for artistic creation. The Enlightenment: art, philosophy, science. The emergence of public (exhibition) institutions.
    2. Neoclassicism. Cosmopolitan world view, image and appropriation of elements of "exotic" cultures.
    3. Laying the foundations of national identities. Forms of romanticism, the phenomenon of nostalgia.
    4. The fall and birth of empires. The art and politics of the First French Empire, the Regency and the reign of George IV.
    5. The Industrial Revolution. The impact of technological progress on society and the arts. The forerunners of photography and the railway as the "internet of its time".
    6. Art in the service of adoration and manipulation: symbol, allegory, monument. The mass dissemination of applied art in the Transalpine countries: Biedermeier. Pop culture formats (caricature, "comics") as commentaries on the turbulent times and their culmination in the revolutionary year 1848.
    7. The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, the emergence of the Arts and Crafts movement (Morris, Burne-Jones, Webb), the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Ruskin, Millais, Rossetti), the architecture of historicizing styles and the beginnings of conservation (Pugin, Semper, Viollet le Duc, Ruskin, von Schmidt, Mocker).
    8. Urbanism and urban development in the 19th century (Haussman, Förster, Sitte, Howard), Brno's ring road, its architects and artists (Förster, Hansen, Ferstel, Brenek, Loos st., Tomola, etc.)
    9. The Barbizon School, the beginnings of plein air painting (Corot, Rousseau, Constable, Chittussi, etc.), Impressionism (Manet, Monet, Degas, Sisley) and Post-Impressionism (Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, Gogh, Gauguin)
    10. Generation of national theatre (Zítek, Schulz, Hynais, Aleš, Brožík, Schnirch, Myslbek, etc.)
    11. Auguste Rodin and sculpture of the second half of the 19th century (Carpeaux, Claudel, Rosso, Bartholdi, Bourdelle)
    12. Painting and sculpture of the 2nd half of the 19th century in the Czech lands (Mánes, Pinkas, Purkynì, Kosárek, Èermák, Marold, Myslbek, S. V. U. Mánes)
    13. Excursion: a guided tour of 19th century architecture in Brno; alternative: a visit to a selected exhibition (Moravian Gallery in Brno, National Gallery in Prague) or a specialised exhibition in Brno or Prague according to the current offer.

Field trip

4 hours, compulsory

Teacher / Lecturer