The Courtauld Institute of Art (/ˈkɔːtəʊld/), commonly referred to as The Courtauld, is a self-governing college of the University of London specialising in the study of the history of art and conservation. It is among the most prestigious specialist colleges for the study of the history of art in the world and is known for the disproportionate number of directors of major museums drawn from its small body of alumni.
The art collection is known particularly for its French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings and is housed in the Courtauld Gallery. The Courtauld is based in Somerset House, in the Strand in London. In 2019, The Courtauld’s teaching and research activities temporarily relocated to Vernon Square, London, while its Somerset House site underwent a major regeneration project.
The Courtauld was founded in 1932 through the philanthropic efforts of the industrialist and art collector Samuel Courtauld, the diplomat and collector Lord Lee of Fareham, and the art historian Sir Robert Witt.
Originally The Courtauld was based in Home House, a Robert Adam-designed townhouse in London’s Portman Square. The Strand block of Somerset House, designed by William Chambers from 1775–1780, has housed The Courtauld since 1989.
The Courtauld has been an independent college of the University of London since 2002.
The Courtauld has featured several times on the BBC’s arts programme Fake or Fortune. In April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute offered digital “mini festivals” called “Open Courtauld Hour”