Season October 2019 – May 2020
All lectures start at 11.00am prompt.
Stella Lyons : Charles Rennie Mackintosh – More Than Just A Tea Room!
Did you know that when Charles Rennie Mackintosh died, his entire estate was valued at just £88? Glaswegian-born Mackintosh, a designer, architect and artist, was the foremost Celtic exponent of Art Nouveau, and had a considerable influence on European art. But he is an even more enigmatic figure today than when he was alive. Both Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald’s work have a distinctive character, one that captures the transition between the Victorian era and the Modern age. This talk will consider both Charles’s and Margaret’s life, work and legacy.
Shauna Isaac : Stolen Masterpieces: The Most Sensational Art Thefts In History
Stolen Masterpieces looks at famous works of art that have been stolen, such as Munch’s The Scream and the masterpieces that were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, including works by Vermeer and Rembrandt. Other works that I’ll look at include Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna with the Yarnwinder and Titian’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt. I’ll talk about why thieves steal and the appeal of famous masterpieces. I will also discuss how art theft is the 3rd largest international crime after the selling of drugs and arms, and the implications of this.
Tim Redmond : A Tour of Big Ben
Big Ben is one of the most iconic buildings in the world – it identifies the UK and democracy in the Western world. But there is a lot more to this tower than the beautiful external gothic architecture; and Tim will prove this to you. Using stunning images, he will take you on a virtual tour of the interior, saving you the effort of climbing 334 spiral stairs. He will explain the historical background and discuss the friction between the often controversial personalities involved in the building and designing of the tower. Tim will then take you behind those magnificent clock faces; show and explain the workings of the enormous clock mechanism; before finally taking you into the belfry and presenting before you – Big Ben, the most famous bell in the world! After all that excitement Tim will ensure you safely descend the stairs ready for your well-earned cup of tea!
John Francis : Who Done It? Hitchcock, The Master Of Suspense
Alfred Hitchcock was a film director and the ‘master of darkness’. He made over fifty feature films where we often see innocent people were caught up in circumstances beyond their control. His Catholic upbringing and uneasy relationship with femininity will be discussed in his early work of the Silent Era. London based dramas, Blackmail (1929) and Dial M for Murder (1954) will be closely analysed. After moving to Hollywood, Hitch created several masterpieces of cinema including Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960). Although often regarded as a skilled entertainer, the French New Wave critics of Cahiers du Cinema argued that Hitchcock’s films should be regarded as artistic masterworks. He remains by far the most studied film director of all time.
Mary Alexander : John Singer Sargent – Master Of The Society Portrait (S)
Ironically it was never John Singer Sargent’s intention to become a ‘paughtrait’ painter. This lecture will explore Sargent’s versatility, psychological insight and humorous observation in his dazzling society portraits, ranging from presidents, oil magnates, and patrons of the arts and their children, to the aspirational new plutocrats who sought social recognition in the absence of aristocratic lineage.
Adam Busiakiewicz : The Queen Of Instruments: The Lute Within Old Master Paintings
The lute holds a special place in the history of art: painters of the Italian Renaissance depicted golden-haired angels plucking its delicate strings, evoking celestial harmony; in the sixteenth century, during the rise of humanism, the lute was a becoming pastime of educated courtiers, as depicted by the likes of Holbein and Titian; throughout the seventeenth century, the instrument continued to play a key role in emphasising the intimate, debauched and transient pleasures of interior scenes by Jan Steen and portraits by Frans Hals. This lecture looks at the lute, and other musical instruments, as devices to express various aspects of the human character throughout the ages.
(As part of this lecture, there is an option for live music performance; faithfully reproduced solo lute music and/or accompanying the voice and other instruments.)
Sian Walters : Raphael: A Master In The Making (2020 Marks The 500th Anniversary Of His Death)
Raphael is often referred to as one of the three giants of the High Renaissance in Italy, alongside Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, yet his fame and position in the canon of art history may seem hard to explain. He made no discoveries like those of his celebrated rivals: although undoubtedly a draughtsman of exceptional talent he made no great progress in the fields of anatomy, science and construction nor did he share the wide-ranging talents which Leonardo and Michelangelo demonstrated in so many disciplines. Furthermore, his career was short-lived as he died tragically young, aged 37. Yet in this relatively short space of time Raphael managed to move from humble initial commissions in and around his home town of Urbino to the covetous position of one of the leading artists at the court of the most important patron in Italy, Pope Julius II, for whom he created some of the most sublime and influential frescoes of the early 16th century. We explore how Raphael achieved this extraordinary rise in status, tracing the development of early works and influences to the masterpieces created in Rome.
Lars Tharp : Hogarth: Harlots, Rakes & Crashing China
Hogarth brings pots, crocks and all manner of chinaware onto his stage as bitpart players in his social dramas. From the Harlot’s dingy garret to milord’s swanky mantelpiece, ceramics teeter, tumble, or merely stand helplessly by, symbolic commentators on the goings-on around them. We delve into the stories, we reveal and even identify particular ceramics and show how Hogarth’s images themselves became sources for the ceramic workshops of Europe and China. A unique and stimulating talk, colliding material culture and moral commentary. You will look at Hogarth and ceramics with new eyes.