Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Decorative Arts in the 19th Century

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Art and Art History

DESCRIPTION This study-unit seeks to highlight the main developments in the decorative arts in Europe and the contributions of important designers working in the different styles which characterised this exciting period in the field. Lectures will take into consideration the Regency Style, the Empire Style, the Gothic Revival and historical revivalist attitudes, and the later reform movements such as the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Aesthetic Movement. Art Nouveau winds up the international part of the study-unit.

Malta, with direct reference to the dominant production of the ecclesiastical decorative arts will be discussed within the context of a British colony dominated by Italian taste. The works of practitioners such as the Cannataci family of silversmiths, Nicola Zammit, Vincenzo Cardona, Abram Gatt and Emanuele Buhagiar, will be taken into consideration.

Knowledge & Understanding:

• The study-unit is designed to provide the student with the tools for the appreciation of the richness and complexity in the decorative arts in Europe and Malta in the period;
• At the end of the study-unit, the student will have come to terms with stylistic and contextual material relating to the principal developments in the decorative arts in both Europe and Malta in the 19th century.


• By the end of the study-unit the student will be in a position to better appreciate the evolution of rich invention which characterised the field;
• An extensive insight into the stylistic trends and ideas manifested in style and ornament in 19th century Europe and their impact on Malta.

Reading List:

Michael Snodin and John Styles, Design and the Decorative Arts: Britain 1500-1900, V&A Publications 2001
Simon Jervis, High Victorian Design, The Boydell Press, London 1983.
Mark Sagona, The Ecclesiastical Decorative Arts in Malta 1850-1900: Style and Ornament, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Malta 2014.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Mark Sagona

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.