Past Lectures & visits We are following Government and National advice, updated daily, on the best way to cope with the Covid-19 issues for our meetings. At the moment our programme continues, but if the situation changes we will circulate details as soon as we are able. 2021 22 April 2021 11am on Zoom Tulips in Amsterdam Sophie Oosterwijk. The Golden Age saw an increasing specialism amongst Dutch artists. Flower still-life pieces were especially admired and some artists were able to demand high prices for their work, albeit not as high as the prices tulips fetched during the ‘tulipomania’ of the 1630s. It was a genre in which women artists could flourish: Rachel Ruysch, Maria von Oosterwyck. Yet flower paintings are nowadays often taken at face value – wrongly. Did the floral arrangements which Dutch artists painted so realistically every really exist in reality? Or were they just an illusion, masterfully painted to cheat nature? 25 March 2021 11am on Zoom Caravaggio: the master of light and shadow Shirley Smith Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a man out of step with his time. Scorning the traditional idealised interpretation of religious subjects, he took his models from the streets, painting them realistically and heightening the emotional intensity by his dramatic contracts of light and shade. Such a revolutionary style was condemned by many as was his equally dramatic personal life and uncontrollable temper which involved him in endless brawls and even murder. This lecture will study the life and works of this enigmatic man and of his influence on later artists. 25 Feburary 2021 11am on Zoom Angelica Kauffmann: an artist in 18th Century England Leslie Primo This lecture will attempt to revive the reputation and celebrate a great artist that, although born in Switzerland, went on to become a great British Neo-Classical artist, with a reputation equal to her male contemporaries in an age that rarely recognised women in this field. This lecture will not only look at her training and early paintings, but also the influence on Kauffman of Italian painting and the great Renaissance masters, not to mention Dutch painting. The lecture will also chart Kauffman’s rise to fame on the Continent, along with her association with the most famous figures of the age including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 –1832) and Joshua Reynolds (1723- 1792) to name but a few. The lecture will also look at Kauffmann’s controversial private life, her arrival in England and subsequent success in a relatively short period of time, and what happened to Kauffmann after leaving England. Thorough the use of existing documentary evidence gained from the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive the lecture will not only chart the rise of Kauffman, but also look at how her work was received by the critics of her day and beyond. Short reading list: Roworth, Wendy Wassyng: Angelica Kauffman: A Continental Artist in Georgian England (Reaktion Books, 1992) Natter, Tobias (ed). Angelica Kauffman: A Woman of Immense Talent (Ostfildern: Hatje-Cantz, 2007) 28 January 2021 11am Prague, City of the Winter Queen Douglas Skeggs Prague is one of the great treasure houses of Europe. Reduced to a near ruin under the communists, it has now been restored to its former glory, a unique blend of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture. The lecture looks at the rich fabric of Prague’s past, its legends and its history, as well as the artists, composers, statesmen and rogues that have illuminated this fairy tale city. 2020 Thursday 10 December: Lecture: 11am Debo Mitford, Devonshire and Housewife 1920 - 2014 Simon Seligman Deborah Devonshire, the youngest of the Mitford sisters and wife of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, was hefted by marriage to one of Europe’s greatest treasure houses, Chatsworth. In the second half of the 20th century, in partnership with her husband, she imbued it with a spirit, elegance and sense of welcome that transformed it from being the worn-out survivor of decades of taxation, war and social change into one of the best-loved, most-emulated and popular historic houses, gardens and estates in the country. With responsibility for Lismore Castle and Bolton Abbey as well, no wonder her passport stated her profession as ‘housewife’. Along the way, she became a best-selling author and sell-out speaker, champion of the countryside, its skills, traditions, livelihoods and food, trustee and patron of numerous charities, businesses and good causes, and the most famous poultry keeper in the country. She met Hitler and Churchill, was a trusted confidant of the Prince of Wales, played her part as the steady heart of the Mitford sisters’ melodrama and was friends with a dazzling array of some of the brightest and most fascinating of her contemporaries, including President Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh, Oscar de la Renta, John Betjeman, Lucian Freud, Tom Stoppard, Neil MacGregor, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Alan Bennett. She said herself that charm was the hardest quality to describe in another person; hers lived in her unique turn of phrase, her stoic Mitfordian perspective on life’s challenges, her curiosity about everyone she met, her stylish beauty, quick wit and delight in all that life offered her. Debo had a lasting impact not just on Chatsworth but on everything she touched and everyone she met; I was lucky enough to work for and with her over more than 20 years and in this lecture I pay tribute to an astonishing life. Thursday 26 November: Lecture: 11am Christmas at Covent Garden Sarah Lenton The London Christmas season was invented at Covent Garden. The first theatre on the site was the home of Harlequin and Columbine and 300 years on Harlequin and Columbine are still dancing in The Nutcracker. Most of what we now consider to be quintessential Pantomime – principal boy, fairy tales, transformation scenes and the dame, can be traced back to the operas and ballets put on at Covent Garden during its first 200 years. Panto has moved on to the Palladium, but you can still see its basic components in the seasonal operas and ballets the Royal Opera House puts on every year: Rossini’s Cenerentola (Cinderella), for example, or Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty or Ashton’s Cinderella. The repertoire changes every year and this lecture is up­dated to include current ROH Christmas offerings. Thursday 22 October: Zoom Lecture: 11am Jacob van Ruisdael, Master of Landscape Jane Choy Thurlow One of the most important contributions that Dutch 17th century artists made to art is the development of the landscape. Edward Norgate, an English visitor to Holland in the 17 century wrote landscape is a word borrowed by us from the Dutch, fittingly enough because landscapes is their own child. Jacob van Ruisdael is considered the greatest 17th century Dutch landscape artist. He looked at his contemporary environment but he also used his imagination to create dramatic scenes producing some of the most astounding landscape art works ever produced. His work influenced later artists. ‘It haunts my mind and clings to my heart’ wrote the English landscape artist John Constable after viewing a work by Jacob van Ruisdael. Thursday 24 September: Zoom Lecture: 11am Thomas Heatherwick, the last Leonardo? Ian Swankie The past decade has seen the meteoric rise of this extraordinarily versatile British designer with his acclaimed Olympic cauldron, the iconic new London bus and designs for a spectacular new HQ building for Google. Over the last twenty years the Heatherwick Studio has used an intriguing combination of curiosity and experimentation to produce a vast range of solutions to design challenges around the world. This talk looks at the problems presented, and the wonderfully creative ways in which Heatherwick and his team have responded. Tuesday 8 September: Zoom Lecture: 11am Go Crystal Tears; The Art of Melancholy Adam Busiakiewicz (the Lutist we love). An invite from Stamford Society. Despite our own modern preconceptions, the quiet introspection of melancholy was often associated with creativity in the past. This was prevalent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when significant treatises, music and art were dedicated to this condition. Treading the thin line between madness and contentment, this lecture will investigate why and how artists of painting and music responded to this significant part of human consciousness. (Several pieces of live lute music will be performed as part of the lecture.) 27 August 2020 11.00 am Sophie Matthews Music in Art Sophie Matthews began playing flute at the age of ten but is now more well-known for her prowess on the English border bagpipes and has become one of the foremost players of the instrument in the UK. She also plays a variety of early woodwind instruments such as shawm, rauschpfeife and recorder. She is one of a handful of British players of the baroque musette, an 18th century French bagpipe similar to the Northumbrian smallpipes. Sophie is also recognised as a superb interpreter of narrative song with a clear, pure and unaffected soprano voice. When not touring with modern-day balladeers GreenMatthews, Sophie makes instruments (she made her own baroque oboe) and works with respected luthier Tony Millyard on his flutes. She’s previously worked with The Oxford Waits as well as the respected early music collective Piva. Sophie is self-taught on all of her instruments. About the presentation: Historical musician and instrument maker Sophie Matthews explores the links between the visual and the aural in this one-hour presentation. Drawing on the works of great painters such as Brueghel, Hogarth and Bosch, Sophie presents a variety of images of historical woodwind instruments in their original social context. The symbolism of music in mediaeval and Renaissance arts is also explored, along with live performances of historical music upon authentic instruments. 23 July 11 am on Zoom Briony Hudson In paynted pots is hidden the deadliest poyson Blue and white tin-glazed earthenware has long been admired and collected for its attractive appearance, but this lecture goes further by examining English delftware with a pharmaceutical purpose. Drawing on examples from collections at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons of England, this talk will provide a beginner's guide to these beautiful yet practical vessels. By placing them in their wider historical context, Briony will also demonstrate that delftware drug jars have an undervalued role to play in understanding medical practices in the 17th and 18th centuries. Briony Hudson studied History at Cambridge University, and Museums Studies at Leicester University. She has worked at museums as diverse as Hereford Cider Museum, the V&A, and Wakefield Museum, and was Keeper of the Museum Collections at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society from 2002 to 2010. Among her publications are works on English Delftware Drug Jars: The collection of the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Jacob Bell: a useful and honourable life. Briony is Past President of the British Society for the History of Pharmacy, and gives lectures on a wide range of topics relating to pharmacy history. Photo courtesy of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum 27 February 2020 Joanna Banham Walter Crane and Nursery Wallpapers Due to unforeseen circumstances on the day, the Walter Crane lecture was replaced by a lecture on William Morris. 23 January 2020 Jonathan Foyle Peterborough Cathedral Peterborough Cathedral started life as a seventh-century abbey, and became a cathedral under Henry VIII. Once called ‘Golden Borough’, the Saxon abbey’s wealth was plundered after the Norman Conquest, but the church arose again with architecture of great power culminating in its unmistakable triple-arched west front. The speaker, author of a recent book on this great building, will outline the development of the building and focus on presenting the first analysis of the hidden meaning in its magnificent thirteenth-century nave ceiling, which emerges as the greatest political work of art in the age of Magna Carta. Click here for the web site for Peterborough Cathedral 12 December 2019 Last Supper in Pompeii Visit to the Ashmolean Museum This major exhibition tells the story of this ancient Roman town’s love affair with food. See below three photos from the trip ‘Last Supper in Pompeii’ Members and guests of Oakham Arts Society enjoyed a guided tour of this stunning exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in early December 2019. These few pictures show our group and just some of the detailed artworks and articles still being revealed in excavations at Pompeii.
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Web site designed, created and maintained by Janet Groome, Handshake Computer Training.
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