The works of these individuals, often coinciding with tumultuous periods in history, are frequently considered the benchmark by which many of their peers have been measured. Integral to the development of new styles, or inspiring later generations of artists, the five examples chosen here have transcended the environs of the art gallery to become household names. All are synonymous with the concept of a ‘great’ artist, though in reality some struggled for recognition in their own lifetime while others achieved fame quickly and attained ‘legendary’ status. The periods in which they worked, from the second half of the 19th century to the present day, were crucial to their artistic development and we will examine this aspect alongside the techniques, subjects and life experiences which shaped their work and processes. Tracking their careers in chronological order, key achievements and canonical works by each will form the basis of this course.