About this course

From Victorian artists' houses to surrealist retreats, exploring 'palaces of art'.

Course Description

Fine art and interior design have long enjoyed a close relationship, from the Trompe-l'œil painting effects of Baroque interiors, to the weird and wonderful Surrealist interiors of the 1930s and Pop Art inspired rooms of the 1960s. Our morning session will cover some of the most exciting collaborations in history between avant-garde artists and pioneering patrons. Case studies will include artists’ houses of the Victorian era, Modernists who saw no division between fine art and design, and the eccentric interiors of Surrealist art collector Edward James, which include commissions from Salvador Dalí and are in the care of our partner institution West Dean College.

We will travel together to the recently restored Leighton House to see how the Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton created his own personal palace of art on a quiet West London street. As President of the Royal Academy of Arts, he was one of the highest earning artist of his era and could commission the very best craftspeople, as well as purchase the finest quality antiques. A short walk around the area will allow us to take in the architecture of other important artists’ houses, including Linley Sambourne House.

Participants should wear comfortable shoes and bring an umbrella (just in case).

Who should attend:

Students and professionals wishing to develop a greater understanding of key houses in the history of interior design

Anyone interested in historic houses, significant artists, and finely crafted interiors

Topics covered:

Leighton House

Sambourne House

Historic interiors

Artists, designers, craftspeople and their relationships.

Course outcomes:

Develop an appreciation for the inter-disciplinary nature of interior design

Explore the ways that art has influenced interior design in the past 400 years

Discover crucial interior design projects that are often left out of historical surveys

Gain insights into a historical era when clients were willing to spend huge sums of money on artistic interiors

Identify opportunities to bring more art into your home.


This course takes place in London.

9.30am arrival on the day.

Teaching hours 10.00am - 4.00pm

Course Materials

Additional information

9.30am arrival on the day. Teaching hours 10.00am - 4.00pm Breakfast pastries and “lunch on the go” are included. While a vegetarian option is made available, we are unable to cater to specific food intolerances or food allergies.

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