Past Lectures & visits 21 July 2022 at the Victoria Hall and on Zoom Karin Fernald Fanny Burney - Her Family and Friends from Diaries and Letters, Paintings and Portraits of the Day 1752-1840 Diarist, novelist, playwright, lady-in-waiting to King George lll and Queen Charlotte, Fanny Burney, best known today for her diaries, was Jane Austen’s favourite novelist. Full of shrewd and illuminating comment, and of hilarious reported conversations, the diaries offer an entertaining and highly personal view of London life. Her first novel Evelina made its young authoress the toast of London, leading to her employment at the court of King George lll as an unwilling and somewhat inefficient lady-in-waiting. Later she married an émigré from revolutionary France, and lived with him happily in Surrey and then, more perilously, in Napoleon’s France. Her account of Brussels during the Battle of Waterloo was drawn upon by Thackeray for Vanity Fair. With paintings, portraits and caricatures by artists of the day, including Hogarth, Gainsborough, Zoffany, Reynolds and cousin Edward Burney. Click here for further information on Fanny Burney 26 May 2022 at the Victoria Hall and on Zoom Denise Heywood Stamford Raffles, Art Collector & Discoverer of Singapore Raffles, whose name is synonymous with a luxury hotel rather than the greatest Buddhist temple in the world, was the enlightened colonial administrator of Java, Indonesia. He discovered the 8th century temple of Borobudur, hidden under volcanic ash, in 1804, acquired wondrous artefacts in Java, such as shadow puppets and textiles, now in the British Museum, and founded Singapore, the most important trading port in the East. This lecture tells the story of Raffles, a scholar and polymath, looks at the art objects he collected, reveals the mystical temple in Java and its radiant carvings, and shows the architectural heritage of Singapore, inspired by his vision, and its revival today as innovative art galleries and museums. Click here for more information on Stamford Raffles 28 April 2022 at the Victoria Hall Susan Owens Constable’s Places Unlike his near-contemporary, J.M.W. Turner, Constable was a stay-at- home painter. ‘I should paint my own places best’, he wrote; and he did just that, returning again and again to a few particular places. To some he had deep emotional ties, such as East Bergholt, where he grew up, and Salisbury, the home of a close friend. Hampstead, where Constable lived for many years, introduced him to the upland scenery of the heath, and his wife’s poor health took the family to Brighton, which provided him with the endlessly fascinating subjects of sea and sky. This lecture explores the rich connections between Constable’s life and his paintings. s Click here for the National Gallery web site. 24 March 2022 At the Victoria Hall and on Zoom Alice Foster Italian Masters: Raphael 1483-1520 From his early years in Urbino, to Perugia under the tutelage of Perugino, Raphael's early work is characterised by clear drawing, a serene beauty and often an elegiac mood. Celebrated in Florence, he was invited to Rome by the Pope, where his mature work in the Vatican apartments shows heroic, larger than life figures in accomplished spatial settings. Raphael died almost 500 years ago and his work remains as fresh, and as moving as when the images were first painted. Alice Foster presents a profile of this great Italian Master, described by Giorgio Vasari as "a mortal god". 24 February 2022 At the Victoria Hall and on Zoom Simon Inglis “A load of old Balls”. According to historian Barbara Tuchman, the invention of the ball ranks as highly as the invention of the wheel. Simon Inglis agrees, especially after spending years delving into cubbyholes at pavilions and museums, in workshops and factories, finding out how these apparently simple objects came into being and how their design and manufacture has evolved. He asks, why are marbles glass? Why did the discovery of gutta percha transform golf? Why were games such as lawn tennis and ping pong made possible only in the mid 19th century? Why did some billiard balls explode, and why are rugby balls such an odd shape? In 1853 the ingredients of one manufacturer's cricket balls were listed as cork, worsted, hemp, brown oats, suet, lard, alum, stale ale and dragon's blood. Can this really be true, or is it, perhaps, just a load of old balls? Note: Simon will bring along examples of old balls for passing round. 27 January 2022 11am on Zoom Susan Kay-Williams Bayeux Tapestry to Opus Anglicanum This lecture explores some truly amazing pieces of embroidery from 10th century metal thread work in St Cuthbert’s stole to the Bayeux Tapestry and on to the high point of English embroidery Opus Angilcanum, meaning English work, which was sought after by Popes and monarchs. The lecture puts these pieces in to a wider social context while unpacking the materials and techniques and in some cases the people involved. 25 November 2021 back at Victoria Hall for this AND on Zoom Image and History: Art at the Lansdowne Club Pamela Campbell-Johnston The current art collection at the Lansdowne Club highlights the fascinating architectural, social and political history of Lansdowne House, now home to this private members' Club. Through 18th century prints, oils, photography, modern silkscreens, lithographs and mixed media works, the image and history of this Grade II building comes to life. Located in Mayfair, central London, the internal fabric of this important building beautifully fuses 18th century neo-classical architecture with the highly fashionable Art Deco style and serves as an eye-catching home for the current modern British art collection. The talk will examine the original floor plan as designed by the celebrated Scottish architect, Robert Adam and the changes thereafter by renowned architects George Dance the Younger, Sir Robert Smirke and TH Wyatt. This fully illustrated presentation will also highlight key works in the modern British art collection by artists such as Nigel Bengstrom, Jennifer Dickson RA, Michelle McKinney and Richard Heep, demonstrating how current commissions and acquisitions can complement the heritage of this historic building. As former home to a past British Prime Minister, Lord Shelburne (1st Marquis of Lansdowne) and to Harry Gordon Selfridge, the department store magnate, Members will also be regaled with stories of intrigue and passion as reflected in the art collection. Preceded by the AGM 28 October 2021 back at Victoria Hall for this AND on Zoom The Hazards of the Journey, Travel in the Middle Ages Imogen Corrigan What possessed people to trudge hundreds of miles, often in appalling conditions and sometimes perishing on the way? This lecture considers this question and also how there was a shift from spiritual wandering in the AngloSaxon period to religious tourism in the days of Chaucer’s pilgrims. It also looks closely at travel in general and the hazards of the journey: how did people organise themselves for long journeys and how safe was it? How should they provide for themselves and where might they find help? From maps and motivation to souvenirs and shrines, this lecture discusses travel in the round as well as specifically for spiritual reasons. 23 September 2021 11am back at Victoria Hall for this AND on Zoom The Sunflower in Art and Culture Dr Twigs Way A fascinating talk exploring the many depictions, myths and cultural roles of that most glorious of plants, the sunflower. Tracing its origins from South America, its association with the god Apollo, to its role in art as personification of kings starring in depictions by artists from van Dyck to van Gogh. Worshipped by the aesthetes and arts and crafts movements it found favour in the gardens of the Impressionists, and led a touch of magic to the humbler cottage garden. From Clytie to Klimt this is the extraordinary tale of an extraordinary plant. 26 August 2021 11am Live and on Zoom BEAUTY IN TRUTH—the past, present, and future of botanical illustration Timothy Walker Many people now carry a phone with a camera capable of taking very high-quality pictures, and yet the painting of botanical specimens persists with new Florilegium Societies still being formed. Why is a drawing and painting still considered to be superior to a digital image? This talk looks at the history of botanical illustration from the early herbals 2,000 years ago to the present day, taking in the lives of both the artists and the plants immortalised in the artwork. Thursday 22 July at 11.00am Virtual Tour "To Kill a King: The Palladian Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace" given by lecturer and guide Siobhan Clarke. The Jewel in the Lost Crown, the Palladian Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace was built for grandeur and has a magnificent painted ceiling by Peter Paul Rubens. Now this building is well known as the execution site of King Charles I. During this tour, using maps, paintings, photographs and music, Siobhan will allow us to explore this somewhat hidden gem in the heart of London. We will discover its classical architecture, its baroque style art and the seismic events in constitutional history when Parliament dared to kill a king! Questions Siobhan is going to ask the audience: 1. Why was Charles I executed at Banqueting House and not at the Tower of London? 2. How did the Puritans feel about the Rubens ceiling, when Cromwell was Lord Protector? 24 June 2021 11am on Zoom Vincent Van Gogh In Arles Brian Healey The eighteen months that Vincent Van Gogh spent in Provence are amongst the most turbulent and written about in the whole of art history, yet only recently have some of the most fascinating details surrounding his time there come to light. The lecture examines the background to Vincent’s fascination with the South where he hoped to find the light of Japan, and establish a studio of the South led by Paul Gaugin. Through close examination of the Arles paintings the lecture shows how over the course of just 18 months his own unique style finally emerged, but only after an appalling act of self-mutilation. The build up to the crisis is a fascinating story, rendered all the more poignant by its tragic aftermath and about which much controversy still remains. 27 May 2021 11am on Zoom Vermeer’s Shadow: Han van Meegeren Malcolm Kenwood Dutch artist and forger Han Van Meegeren committed the most lucrative, audacious art fraud of the 20th Century. Today he is renowned as the man who Made Vermeer’s and duped a certain buyer, Reichsmarschall Herman Göring. This lecture explores his extraordinary life, from a childhood passion for the 17th century painters of the Dutch Golden age. His mixed fortune as an artist in his own right before developing a career as an art forger and criminal fraudster. It reveals how he slowly evolved the techniques to deceive the most authoritative art historians of the day. He flourished just before and during the Second World War with a prodigious output of forged works eagerly purchased by wealthy Dutchmen. Despite the tumultuous conditions of that period he generated incredible wealth. Van Meegeren enjoyed an exotic lifestyle of wine, women and locations. The sale of his “Vermeer” “Christ with the Adulteress” in 1943 to Göring would ultimately lead to his downfall and arrest in 1945 as a collaborator, punishable by death. An incredible story of cunning, greed, treason, love and life. Click here for more information on Han van Meegeren 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)
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