Students working outside the History of Art explore the ornate and unusual, each focusing on one object at The Courtauld that sparks their curiosity. Check out their discoveries below.

A Criptic Vessel

Mikayla Hu, Science Communication Postgraduate at Imperial College London

a yellow and blue glazed vase with inscriptions and decorations
Probably Marche or possibly Tuscany, Pharmacy or storage jar, 1530–50, tin-glazed earthenware. The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) Photo © The Courtauld.

Unlock multiple narratives in medicine and art through this jar filled with mysteries.


The Bear in the Sandbox: Art Therapy and the Museum Object

Isabel Hendley and Danny Kitchener, Art Therapy Trainees at The University of Roehampton

Sculpture of a bear
Ornament in the form of a bear Ordos culture, Inner Mongolia or Northwestern China, 200 BC – 220 AD. Bronze with traces of red lacquer, 4.2 cm x 1.7 cm. The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust). Photo © The Courtauld

Across cultures, bears have been symbols in different ways to different people: from magnificent powerful beasts, to comforting characters in children’s stories and soft toys. Find out what it symbolizes for us.

A Pair of Gold Beakers

Sophie-Nicole Dodds, Goldsmiths College

These jewel-like beakers both feature a lively scene of a stag hunt, with a mischievous smiling hare hidden in each base. Explore the techniques and narratives.

a pair of gold beakers

Silk Fragment by Jock Turnbull in the Omega Workshops

Sophie-Nicole Dodds, Goldsmiths College

Bold strokes and creative resistance in 1913 London. Immerse yourself in the art and science of making.

Painted Scarf

Getting in a Scrap with the Avant-Garde

Jack Monaghan, Imperial College

Know your atoms from your alloys? Leap into the history and production methods of César’s fabulous Habitation, of 1960.

Metal Sculpture Habitation by César
Habitation by César, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London / DACS.

closed ivory box front viewGlobal Union

Katrina Brain, Imperial College

Exotic beasts and precious materials from international trade networks define an exquisite marriage casket from seventeenth-century Germany.

Venetian Glow

The Front of the sulpture titled Habitation by CesarMelisa Lenero, Royal College of Art & Imperial College

How an eighteenth-century glass dish emulates bioluminescent sea creatures through expert craft techniques.

Puzzling Construction

Anabel Hazeldine, Central Saint Martins

Part drinks vessel and part game, a jug that would have invited playful usage across seventeenth-century taverns and dining rooms alike.

decorated frame with precious stones on the side and a painted biblical scene in the middle

Sumptuous Devotion

Nathasha Gertler, Imperial College

Pinpointing which semi-precious stones are inlaid into the frame of this portable altarpiece proves harder than you might imagine.

Faith Suspended

a pendant in the form of a book

Devon Abts, Kings College

This miniature pendant from the early seventeenth century raises questions about who it was for and what holy object it held close to the wearer’s heart

Man-made Magic in Murano 

glass bowl

Eleanor Magson, Imperial College

Learn the secrets of eighteenth-century Venetian glass-makers through this bowl, and see how they competed with Mother Nature herself.

silver coffee pot

Coffee Culture

Maryam Ala Amjadi, University of Kent

The game-changing drink became known in England from the seventeenth century via travellers to the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Isfahan. What can an eighteenth-century coffee pot recall about the ensuing social and intellectual pursuits that boomed in coffeehouses throughout the country?

carved wooden loom pulleyWeaving and Masquerade in the Côte d’Ivoire

Niahm Collard, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Find out why this loom pulley is shaped like a beautiful female mask and is the object of the Guro weaver’s gaze.

painted ceramic dish, with floral motivLyrical Flowers

Laila El-Sayed, University of Kent

Carnations and tulips abound: do the swirling flowers on this Iznik dish hold a deeper cultural symbolism?

elegant decorated English wine glass from 18th centuryFiligree Fancy

Victoria Druce, Imperial College

Get granular with the techniques and chemical components of glasses made in Venice and England.

miniature picture bible Piety Reformed

Josephine Neil, Kings College

A pair of German miniature picture bibles bears witness to the talents of the Küsel sisters, who produced these devotional objects while navigating a time of religious upheaval.

decorated ceramic plateIllustrious Craft

Tanja Tolar, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Islamic and Christian heritages intertwine in this Spanish lustreware dish.

wooden carved crossArtisans on Athos

Eleni Dimitriadou, The Courtauld Institute of Art

The monks of Mount Athos worked painstakingly on this carved wooden cross. Can you follow the biblical stories whittled intricately across it?

Sculpture and Decorative Arts including Illuminating Objects is proudly supported by McQueens Flowers.

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