Season October 2017 - May 2018
18 October 2017
David Cross : Peter Paul Rubens, Colour, Creativity, Diplomacy and Collecting.
Tall, handsome, courteous and bearded, Rubens (1577-1640) was the greatest artist in Europe during the Baroque era. Based in Antwerp, he moved in the highest circles in Italy, Spain, England and the Netherlands. Knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England, he was successful equally as an artist and a diplomat. This Prince of Painters, who ran a busy studio, was also the master of the great Van Dyck. As a brilliant draughtsman, he covered the range of genres and among his vast output were voluptuous Venuses and numerous other exuberant canvases featuring the range of classical mythology. His altarpieces were in great demand during the Counter Reformation; his portraits are well observed; his landscapes are memorable and his works appear in numerous major collections. An early internationalist, he said: ‘I regard all the world as my country’. This lecture will explore his rich palette, his lively handling and the sheer brilliance of his textures. Furthermore, Rubens was a scholar, a linguist and an enthusiastic collector of gems, coins, cameos and sculpture, in which he manifested an intense sense of beauty. His treasures alone earn him a place in art history.
15th November 2017
Stephen Duffy : The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
Illustrated with many wonderful works of art, this lecture tells the extraordinary story of the rise of the son of a lawyer in Ajaccio, Corsica, to become Emperor of the French before finally being defeated and sent into exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. It also attempts to explain the nature of his genius as an administrator and a military commander, assessing his achievements and his failures, his strengths and his weaknesses. Among the topics covered will be his marriage to Josephine de Beauharnais, his relationship with the Duke of Wellington, and his place within history. It is in some ways a very human story, but one which focuses on one of the most remarkable men who has ever lived.
13th December 2017
Nicole Mezey : The Woman who Ate her Husband: The ‘Mona Lisa’ and the Art of Leonardo
The 'Mona Lisa' is both mesmerising and tantalising. So much about it is mysterious, but one thing is clear: in a life studded with unfinished projects, this was one which Leonardo not only completed, but kept with him until his death, because in it he addressed and realised so many of the themes which are at the core of his work. This lecture examines the Mona Lisa itself but also uses it to explore and understand the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.
17th January 2018
Lars Tharp (Antiques Road Show presenter): The gate of Heroes: On the China Trail
From the mountains of Jiangxi province in far-off China, down river, over lake and mountain, and finally across oceans, nearly all the Chinese ceramics on display in European museums, stately homes, palaces and personal collections are survivors of an epic journey and of monumental human labour -Luxury created in the labour of millions. Each year in the 1600s and 1700s millions of pieces - services, vases and ornamental wares - were portered over the mountain border into Guangdong province, passing through the aptly-named ‘Gate of Heroes’. Lars will take us on the same journey, the one you may have seen in his 2011 BBC film Treasures of Chinese Porcelain. And knowing the great human labour involved you will never again pass or look at a piece of Chinese porcelain without this journey coming to mind.
21st February 2018
Tom Duncan: Romans Moors and Christians: Andalucía and its Golden Age
Celts, Romans, Christians, Visigoths and Arabs have left their imprint on Iberia. Most vivid reminders are in their great cities, showing a fusion of culture and architectural styles. This lecture will reveal the layers that make up this complex building and artistic history, from the earliest settlement to the fall of Granada and the end or Moorish rule in 1492.
21st March 2018
Doug Gillen: Hidden Canvasses: Street Art and the City
There's more to the world of street art than Banksy. Hidden Canvases is a beginner's guide to the biggest art movement since pop art. From train writing in New York to interactive technology that brings murals to life, the concept of un-commissioned public art is a very different beast to that which it once was. Hidden Canvases explores the key stages in street art's growth examining the different elements and styles that comprise the scene with no rules. From the international superstars to the local underground heroes you're guaranteed to leave knowing your Invader from you Aryz and who knows you might even start looking at the world a little differently.
18th April 2018
Peter Warwick: Russian Apocalypse: The Tragedy of the last Romanovs
(2018 centenary of the assassination of Nicolas II and his family)
This lecture describes the collapse of Czarist Russia and the murder of the Nicholas II and his family, a story told in part through the innocent eyes of his young son, Czarevitch Alexei, and teenage daughters, the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, using their drawings, paintings and photographs.
16th May 2018
Nicola Moorby: Turner vs Constable: The Great British Paint-Off
This is the story of the epic rivalry between the two giants of British art, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. As unlike in background and temperament as their paintings were in style, these two creative geniuses transformed the art of landscape. This lecture sets them head-to-head and examines their differences, their similarities, their battles and their shared triumphs. But who will ultimately be crowned star painter? As well as giving an overview of Turner and Constable, the lecture provides an enjoyable overview of the British art world during the nineteenth century.