nl en

Neglected Art: The Grotesque & Caricatures


Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus crisis, we cannot offer this class this academic year. If you were selected for this class and need to follow a Bachelor Honours Class in order to graduate this academic year, please contact

Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €200,-) for the excursion to Paris

Admission requirements:

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an elective course within the Honours College programme. Third year students who don’t participate in the Honours College, have the opportunity to apply for a Bachelor Honours Class. Students will be selected based on i.a. their motivation and average grade.

Key words:

Skills: research, public speaking, presenting, academic writing.

Topics: What is art? What is the role of art in society? Why do we need art?

Disciplines: Art History, Anthropology, Cultural History.


This Summer School focuses on the grotesque and caricature. We study images that were extremely popular and were often created by the most prominent artists of their time. Nevertheless, traditional Art History rarely accepted these images as true art. They were too extravagant, too strange, too fantastic, too popular. In this course we will revisit this neglect, which tells so much about implicit attitudes towards image making and viewing, because the grotesque like the caricature provide excellent examples that show that images can do so much more than mirroring society or imitating nature. Their very lack of naturalism, exaggerations, grim humour or terrifying aspect can enforce the prestige of the patrons, emphasise the technical virtuosity of the artist, make fun of the persons depicted, and in general show how images can become not just things of beauty, or mere ornament, but social actors. Thus they show that images are not only made to decorate our environment, but can help us to change our society. To do so, we will visit major art collections in the Netherlands and Paris, and offer a seminar by Leiden, Paris and Cambridge staff and curators.

Collaboration Ecole du Louvre

This Honours Class is organised in collaboration with Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Together with students from Ecole du Louvre an you will follow lectures and go on excursion in the Netherlands. Later on, you will travel to Paris, where you will attend lectures at Ecole du Louvre and go on excursion together with the students from this university.

Course objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course:


  • you have acquired a better view on the sociocultural impact of the visual and the decorative arts. The grotesque and caricature are ideal means to learn perspectives on art that go beyond aesthetics or iconography. Moreover, you will learn about an important, but nevertheless neglected part of the history of art from the fifteenth till the nineteenth centuries.


  • you are able to accomplish independent art historical research: to formulate and present a well-considered judgement on scientific literature and relate this to the analysis of art and architecture in both a written and oral manner.

The course objectives are:

  • To select a subject for an art historical research and to formulate a relevant definition of the problem

  • To choose an adequate method to solve this problem, to carry out a thorough analysis of secondary literature and of visual and textual primary sources which is elaborated in a bibliography that corresponds to academic requirements.

  • To be able to write a structured discourse in max. 3000 words, incl. notes and bibliography, starting for a relevant definition of the problem and with a thorough conclusion.

Programme and timetable:

Summerschool: 22-26 June 2020.
Programme will be announched on blackboard two weeks prior to the start of the course.


First Part (two/three days): The Old Observatory & excursions in the Netherlands
Second Part (two/three days): Ecole du Louvre & excursions in Paris

Reading list:

Literature will be announced in class or via Blackboard.

Course load and teaching method:

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 8 lectures of 2 hours: 16 hours (attendance is mandatory)

  • Excursion: 5 excursions of 5 hours: 25 hours (attendance is mandatory)

  • Literature reading & practical work: 40 hours

  • Final essay: 59 hours

Assessment methods:

The assessment methods will look as follows (The assessment methods will be further explained in the first session of the Class):

  • 30% Participation assessed continually through participation in summer school

  • 70% A final paper of 3000 words
    Students could only pass this course after successful completion of all partial exams


Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard page one weeks prior to the start of the course.

Registration process:
Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €200,-) for the excursion to Paris

Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday the 4th of November up to and including Thursday the 14th of November until 23:59hrs through the Honours Academy. The registration link will be posted on the student website of the Honours Academy.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Bachelor Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally after successful completion of the Bachelor Honours Class.


prof.dr. Stijn Bussels: