Past Lectures & visits 2023 25 January 2024 LOIS OLIVER Rosa Bonheur: animal painter extraordinaire One of the most celebrated artists of her time, French painter Rosa Bonheur had an extraordinary gift for painting animals that brought her international fame and recognition. Her works fetched exceptionally high prices on both sides of the Atlantic, and in 1865 she became the first woman to be awarded the légion d’honneur, France’s highest of merit. Defying convention, Bonheur obtained official police permission to wear men’s clothing, so that she could study animal anatomy in the male-only spaces of livestock sales. Her most famous work ‘The Horse Fair’ displays such dynamism that when it was exhibited at the 1853 Paris Salon, one critic wrote that he had to suppress the urge to jump out of the way of the galloping horses. Such was its fame, that Queen Victoria requested a private viewing at Buckingham Palace. Bonheur’s commercial success enabled her to buy the Chateau de By, near Fontainebleau, where she lived with her lifelong companion Nathalie Micas, establishing a studio and menagerie, that included sheep, gazelles, monkeys, and three lions. This lecture offers an in-depth account of her extraordinary life and work Rosa Bonheur, Lion (the Lookout) Photo Wiikmedia Commons November 23 2023 PAULA NUTTALL Isabella d’Este: 1st lady of the Renaissance Isabella d’Este (1476-1530), Marchioness of Mantua, known to her contemporaries as ‘the world’s First Lady’, was one of the leading women of the Italian renaissance. She was stylish, cultivated, feisty and – in her own words – ‘hungry for art’. As a female patron in a male-dominated world, she is an exceptional figure: paintings by Mantegna decorated her study, she sat for her portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, scoured Italy for classical antiquities and stole a statue by Michelangelo from her Urbino in-laws. Drawing extensively on contemporary anecdote, this lecture looks at Isabella’s life, personality, predilections and peccadilloes, and of course at the masterpieces of art she owned. Study Day TUESDAY 17 OCTOBER 2023 The Houses of Parliament: 1000 Years of a British Icon Caroline Shenton In the Wilson Auditorium, Oakham School, LE15 6QT £35 per person, including a sandwiches and cake lunch and drinks 10.00 - 10.30: Registration and coffee/tea/biscuits 10.30 - 11.40: Lecture 1 “The Day Parliament Burned Down”: the old Houses of Parliament from the medieval period to 1834. 11.50 -13.00: Lecture 2: ” Mr Barry's War”: building the new Houses of Parliament from 1834 to 1860. 13.00 - 13.45: Sandwich & cake lunch break with coffee/tea/water available. Also a chance to view the display and books. 13.50 - 15.00: Lecture 3: “From the Suffragettes to Restoration and Renewal” from 1860 to 2023. This is Caroline’s flagship and most popular study day that covers a thousand years of the history, art and architecture of Britain’s most famous building. Beginning with its medieval origins as a royal palace, we will see the complex transformed into the Tudor Houses of Parliament; burned down in 1834; rebuilt by Barry & Pugin, damaged in the Blitz and then finishing with an update on the current multi-billion pound plans to restore this great survivor for the 21st century. Caroline will bring along a selection of artefacts from the old and new Palaces, and signed copies of her award-winning books will be available for purchase at 40% discount. October 26 2023 JUSTIN REAY Sensation and Sensibility: Depictions of the Industrial Age by Joseph Wright of Derby Britain in the 18th century saw an unprecedented growth in industry, technology and scientific discovery, building the foundation of its wealth and power. Industrialists and natural philosophers – the name at the time for physical and chemical scientists – became famous, and their world was painted by Joseph Wright of Derby. The son of a well-to-do professional family in the small county town in the Midlands, Wright was well placed to observe the development of the burgeoning industries of the area and to befriend the self-made entrepreneurs creating them. Combining his depictions of industry and science with an original approach to light, these subject paintings became popular in Wright’s lifetime. Justin discusses the key events of the early industrial and scientific eras, and describes Wright’s ground-breaking, artistically accomplished and historically valuable paintings. September 28 2023 SUE JACKSON The Cultural Heritage of the Huguenots The Huguenots came to England in huge numbers in the late 17th century bringing a wide variety of skills - as silk weavers, silversmiths, clock makers, opticians, bankers, gilders, ironworkers, horticulturists etc. Names such as Paul de Lamerie, Samuel Courtauld and Jean Tijou spring to mind. In virtually all areas, they were innovators and more advanced than the English who were forced to improve their own skills or go out of business. Although the majority settled in London, others found their way to East Anglia, Macclesfield and Canterbury. This talk examines their lasting legacy. August lecture will be at Greetham Valley Golf Club. August 24 2023 NICHOLAS REED Not just smoke and mirrors: The Magical Art of Camouflage in Warfare This lecture is a follow-up to my lecture on “War Artists, Spies and the Art of Deception”. Camouflaging of ships in wartime was invented in WW1 by the artist Norman Wilkinson. But it was a professional conjurer who accomplished the impossible by hiding the Suez Canal in WW2. Find out how he did it! followed by the Summer lunch. We hope that most of you will stay for the lunch after the lecture and this needs to be booked in advance please. Application form available June 22 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am JOANNA MABBUTT The Field of Cloth of Gold: 6.000 Englishmen in France for 18 days - How did they do it. In June 1520 Henry VIII and Francis 1 meet to ratify an Anglo-French alliance and celebrate the betrothal of Henry’s daughter Mary to the Dauphin. The two handsome ‘Renaissance Princes’ are in their 20s with similar reputations in military prowess, sport and patrons of the arts. Both have imperial ambitions and are eager to display themselves as magnificent nobleman and warrior kings. Each brings an entourage of 6,000 to a field south of Calais for 18 days of various events and entertainments staged to display the skill and splendour of each King and country. The logistics of transporting, accommodating, ordering, feeding and watering, protecting and entertaining the English contingent for this spectacular event is staggering and the supply chain, often through the City of London Guilds, is equally fascinating. 3,217 horses shipped across the ‘Narrow Sea’ to Calais; a vast quantity of wood sourced from Flanders and floated along the coast; a huge temporary palace is built on stone foundations with brick and timber-framed walls reaching to 40 feet. Royal palaces were virtually emptied of their silver, gold, tapestries and furniture to decorate the temporary palace, other principal tents and a chapel (with an organ); gold and silver cloth, velvet and sables, jewels and pearls were imported to ‘dress and impress’. How was it all achieved? May 25 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am CAROLINE RAYMAN Stranger than Fiction: The Mysterious Disappearances of Great Jan Van Eyck Altarpiece of Ghent Painted between 1430 and 1432 by Jan van Eyck, and possibly his brother Hubert, for St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent; also known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, this altarpiece was, over the ensuing seven centuries, stolen no less than thirteen times. This lecture tells the extraordinary story of these thefts, culminating with the final one which took place during the Second World War, when it was stolen, along with many other treasures from all over Europe, by Adolf Hitler for the magnificent museum he intended to build in his name in his home town of Linz. Thursday 11 May 2023 Private Guided Tour of Boughton House with Lunch + explore gardens at your leisure in the afternoon £35 per person includes refreshments on arrival, the tour and hot one-course buffet lunch. Please respond by Thursday 27 April LATEST The tour of the House is over 2 floors and will start promptly at 11am and last an hour and a half. After lunch, members are free to explore the gardens at their leisure. There is no charge for walking in the gardens which should be vacated by 4pm. The House does offer exclusive group garden tours at £6 per person - if there are any members who would like to join a garden tour they should make their own arrangements directly with the House. Members who do not wish to visit the gardens are free to leave after lunch. April 27 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am ROGER BUTLER Lost Canals - A story of Romantic Decay There are currently 2,100 miles of canal in the UK but there were more than 4,000 miles in the 1830s. Many canals fell into decline when the railways arrived but their legacy lives on… old buildings with new uses, unusual features which form unexpected landmarks, lost lock flights that resemble Inca ruins... learn about the gigantic Foxton Inclined Plane or the canal that ran right by Alton Towers. And some canals were quite remarkable… the Tamar Manure Canal, the Louth Navigation and the bizarre Somerset Coal Canal. They are all very much part of our national heritage. March 23 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am JO WALTON ‘So they do cook after all!’. Ravilious, Bawden and the great Bardfield Artists In 1932 the artist Edward Bawden and his wife Charlotte moved into Brick House, in the Essex village of Great Bardfield, initially sharing the house with another artistic couple, Eric Ravilious and Tirzah Garwood. It was to be the beginning of a fascinating artistic community. In the years before and during the Second World War painters, printmakers and designers settled in the village, relishing the peace while remaining within easy reach of London. While Bawden and Ravilious saw active service as War Artists (Ravilious dying in 1942), other artists captured the soon-to-change world of rural England through the Recording Britain project. By the mid-1950s a diverse, innovative but highly creative group had made Bardfield their home – much to the bemusement of the local villagers, who found the complex relationships and artistic focus of the newcomers rather baffling. In 1954 the artists invited the public into their homes and studios to see their work, starting the increasingly popular ‘Open Studios’ movement that now covers the country, and persuading some of their neighbours that artists could be quite normal people after all February 23 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am RUPERT WILLOUGHBY Marathon! One of the world’s most popular athletic events commemorates Pheidippides’s epic run from the battlefield of Marathon to his native Athens. Apart from the amazing courage of Pheidippides, why remember a battle that took place over two and a half thousand years ago? Since the 19th century, historians have argued that it was a crucial event, one that had decided ‘the whole future of human civilisation’. As John Stuart Mill put it, ‘the Battle of Marathon, even as an event in English history, is more important than the Battle of Hastings’. Rupert re-creates the background and the battle itself in thrilling detail. He looks at the various ways in which ancient Athens has influenced our art and culture, and argues that Marathon was, indeed, the battle that saved ‘Western Civilisation’. Eye- opening, edge-of-your-seat stuff. January 26 2023 Live and on Zoom at 11.00 am SARAH BURLES Lord Fitzwilliam and his bequest to Cambridge The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge was founded on the death of Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam in 1816, five years after the Dulwich Picture Gallery and eight years before the National Gallery in London. His bequest included paintings, drawings, prints, medieval manuscripts and books and, in addition, a sum of money to build “a good substantial museum repository for the increase of learning”. Who was Lord Fitzwilliam? How did he acquire his extensive collection? What prompted him to leave it to the University of Cambridge and why was Napoleon partly responsible for the founding of one of the great regional museums? These, and many other questions, will be answered in a lecture that will also discuss some of the key works in Lord Fitzwilliam’s bequest. Photo:The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge Roger Kidd Wikimedia 24 November 2022 Live and on Zoom Rosamund Bartlett Grandfather Frost and the Old New Year: Russian Christmas Where better to spend Yuletide than in snowy Russia? Imagine yourself wrapped in furs, speeding along in a troika, bells ringing, as you come home from church after celebrating the end of the 40 day Christmas fast. This lecture explores the traditional religious and folk customs associated with Christmas in Russia before the Revolution, the secular celebrations introduced to Russia by Peter the Great, the drastic changes introduced in Soviet times by Stalin, and what Christmas means to Russians today. 18 October 2022 STUDY DAY Wilson Auditorium, Oakham School Julian Richards A Potted History of Britain (Extra fee payable) The first pots appeared in Britain about 6000 years ago and these four lectures will chart the ways in which ceramic production has evolved from this time to the present day. From the hand-formed and bonfire-fired pots of our prehistoric ancestors to the products of both modern industry and individual craft potters, this lecture will examine the major changes that have shaped the ways pots are produced and distributed. Roman industrialisation, the introduction of the potters wheel and kiln, the effects of the industrial revolution on rural potteries and the rise of the art potteries of the 19th century are all part of this evolving story, told through the pots themselves and the potters that made them. This is a genuinely ‘potted history’. 27 October 2022 Live and on Zoom Clyde Binfield Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1933) Preceded by the AGM Joaquin Sorolla has always been known in Spain and the Museo Sorolla which is in his home and studio in a select part of Madrid, is a delight. His sitters included a Spanish King, an American President, and Louis Comfort Tiffany; and he knew Sargent – who urged him to settle in London (if only….). 22 September 2022 at the Victoria Hall and on Zoom Andrew Prince Royal Jewels and the American Heiress: Antique Treasures for the New World In this talk Andrew shows that following the turbulent political times between 1870 and 1929, which culminated in the final collapse of the Russian and European Monarchies, countless astonishing art and jewel collections were dispersed, looted or sold. Fortunately, this coincided with the growing wealth and power of America and its industrial millionaires, who were intent on creating sumptuous palaces of their own and filling them with the greatest paintings and furniture, together with weighing down their wives and daughters with the finest of recently purchased royal jewels. In this talk, Andrew explains how these fabulously wealthy heiresses then married into the British aristocracy, bringing many of these treasures with them. He shows with the decline of aristocratic power and the British Empire, how these legendary jewels have again been parted with and can now to be seen by everyone, in the world's great museums. 25 August 2022 - will be held at Greetham Valley Golf Club. James Bolton After Miss Jekyll: English Gardens of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Followed by the summer lunch The long shadow of the Arts and Crafts Movement has hung over English gardening for most of the twentieth century. The dominance of Miss Jekyll and the enduring popularity of gardens at Hidcote and Sissinghurst have proved to be an enduring legacy. There were always subversive undercurrents of alternative styles and influences which, as the new century gets into its stride, have gained a greater importance and momentum. Post-Modernism, rich in symbolism, has, in gardens like Portrack, Little Sparta and Througham Court, explored the worlds of literature and science; while plants, for centuries an abiding passion of English gardeners, have continued to cast their spells, with newly-discovered plants enriching gardens across the country. The New Perennial movement, originating in Europe, has allied itself to our increasing desire to go organic and the interest in woodland and wild-flower meadows to produce a freer, gentler style of painting, spearheaded by Tom Stuart-Smith, perhaps more in tune with the Twenty-First Century. Click here to see Tom Stuart-Smith’s gardens on his web site. 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
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