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Thursdays, May 2 – May 23, 6 – 8pm


Vincent van Gogh. The Postman (detail), 1889. BF37. Public Domain.

$220; members $198
(4 classes)

About the Class

From Hans Memling’s 15th-century Portrait of a Man to Vincent van Gogh’s Postman, the portraits in the Barnes collection illustrate an array of artistic approaches. This course will examine the relationship between artist and sitter in works by Matisse, Van Gogh, and Modigliani; historical precedents set forth by artists like Titian, Frans Hals, and Jean Fouquet; the practice of self-portraiture by modern artists; and the ability of portraits to indicate social praxis. In the end, we will uncover multiple layers of meaning in portraiture and explore the range of expression offered by portraits in the Barnes galleries.

The class is online-only. More about online classes.

Barnes classes will:

  • Increase your understanding of art-related concepts.
  • Increase the ways you think critically about art.
  • Improve your ability to communicate about art.
  • Deepen your appreciation for cultures and histories outside your own.

See all classes.


Laura L. Watts

Watts is professor emerita in art history at Daemen University, in Amherst, New York, and has taught for more than 30 years on subjects including modernism, contemporary art, and visual literacy. Her book Italian Painting in the Age of Unification (Routledge, 2021) won the Visual Arts Award from the American Association of Italian Studies. She is currently researching the artistic connections between Bermuda and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Recent Barnes Class Testimonials

“The teacher was so smart, and knowledgeable about everything: art history, architecture, interior design, and literature! What a breadth of knowledge!” Paris in the 1920s: Art, Design, Fashion, and Literature with Caterina Pierre

“The instructor was first-rate. Poised, professional yet also inviting and comforting. She set the perfect tone for this event, and her spirit opened up beautiful connections and conversations.” Being Present with Art: The Retreat with Roksana Filipowska

“The professor was highly engaging, facilitated excellent discussions, and [was] very knowledgeable. I learned a lot about teaching art history from watching her.” Matisse and Picasso with Martha Lucy

“The instructor [was] very empathetic and knowledgeable [and] created moments of sharing across students who participated actively in discussion.” Art and Literature of the Harlem Renaissance with Michael Williamson