The Atelier System & Philosophy

Portrait painting
Atelier training has origins in the bottega system of the Renaissance, whereby novices were apprenticed to a master artist or craftsman who was responsible for their instruction. By the nineteenth century, a typical atelier was usually the personal studio of an established artist who accepted a small number of students for private instruction. Thus, John Singer Sargent sought out the studio of the fashionable portrait painter M. Carolus-Duran to supplement his studies at the √ącole de Beaux Arts in Paris.

At the Sarum Studio, the emphasis is on working from life, under natural light, in adequate space, from the start. Students are guided through a personal course of study under the individual supervision of Nicholas Beer, with assistance from Alastair Barford ( and Helen Davison ( There are no student teachers at the Sarum Studio.