Lectures 2021/2022 Membership Year October 2021 - July 2022 October 6th 2021 The Century of Deception: Hoaxers and Swindlers in the 18th Century Lecturer:Ian Keable The 1700s was a period when the people of England seemed to be especially gullible. They believed a woman could give birth to rabbits; a man could climb inside a two pint bottle and sing inside it; and where a blond-haired European could write a book claiming that he was born in Taiwan. These hoaxes weren't just written about extensively in newspapers and journals but also brilliantly and amusingly depicted by satirical artists such as William Hogarth and James Gillray. In this entertaining talk Ian demonstrates how 18th century hoaxes are memorable not only for their imaginative nature but also because of the differing motives of the tricksters. November 3rd 2021 The Model Wife: Women in Pre-Raphaelite Art Lecturer: Suzanne Fagence-Cooper Who were the women whose faces gaze out at us from the canvases of the Pre- Raphaelites? This lecture explores the private lives of a revolutionary group of Victorian artists, and the haunting stories of their loves – Lizzie Siddal, Janey Morris and Effie Gray. December 1st 2021 Caravaggio: The Master of Light and Shadow Lecturer: 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. January 5th 2022 Introducing the Glasgow Boys Lecturer: Julia Marwood Disillusioned with the stuffiness and sentimentality of academic painting, a group of radical young painters burst onto the Glasgow art scene in the early 1880s and set in motion the stirrings of modernism in Scottish painting. Working out of doors in Scotland and France, they painted contemporary rural subjects strongly influenced by Dutch and French realism, especially the Naturalist paintings of Jules Bastien-Lepage and the tonal painting of the American artist James McNeill Whistler. This lecture introduces the characters and their works, and shows how they set the scene for what was still to come – especially the explosion of talent centred on the Glasgow School of Art under Francis Newbery, and the Scottish Colourists. February 2nd 2022 Emile Gallé and René Lalique – Masters of Art Nouveau and Art Deco Glass Lecturer: Charles Hajdamach Exquisitely illustrated, this talk contrasts the achievements of the two great French glass masters against a backdrop of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The cameo vases of Gallé were the highlight of European glass epitomising the Symbolist movement in France. Lalique had started his career as a jeweller at the time of Gallé’s success but moved into the production of glass by 1910. He used many of the same images as his countryman but transformed them into stylish graphic designs which continue today to maintain the Lalique name in the forefront of desirable glass. March 2nd 2022 Nicholas and Alexandra – ‘Tyrants and Martyrs of Imperial Russia’ Lecturer: Douglas Skeggs Although it has been told and retold in books and films, no story in the 20th century has caught the imagination more powerfully and poignantly than the tragic life and execution of Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs. From his childhood where he stood sobbing by his grandfather’s bedside in the Winter Palace as he lay dying from the injuries inflicted by an anarchist bomb, Nicolas’s life seemed to be shadowed by the omens of disaster. At the celebrations for his coronation, the crowd of spectators ran out of control and thousands were trampled to death; when the people appealed to him personally during the strikes of 1905, he assumed the were rioting and had them shot down by the Imperial Guard. Brought up by a powerful, iron-willed father, he was emotionally unsuited to rule the nation and allowed himself to be dominated by his wife who he loved with a passion that blinded him from her short-comings. Determined to produce the son and heir to the Romanov dynasty, Alexandra was easily misled by mystical cults and charlatans peddling spiritual cures so that, when the boy she had craved so long was discovered to be suffering from haemophilia, she fell completely under the spell of Rasputin. Hypnotised by the healing powers he appeared to possess, she allowed this peasant monk extraordinary influence in St Petersburg, encouraging Nicolas to follow his garbled demands as though they were heaven sent guidance. With the war threatening to destroy the nation and the people on the brink of revolution, Nicolas was forced to sign his abdication, the only act of his reign he undertook without the advice of his wife. For a time he was allowed to remain in captivity in one of his own palaces but, with attempts to rescue him mounting, he was moved out east where finally, in one of the most moving and memorable images of the modern world, he and his family were shot in a cellar. April 6th 2022 The Wind in the Willows Revisited through its Illustrators Lecturer: John Ericson The beauty of Kenneth Grahame’s prose is widely acknowledged but the story is so full of wonderful imagery that it almost demands to be illustrated. First published in 1908 without illustration, the classic tale of Ratty, Mole, and the incorrigible Mr Toad has been in print ever since. What is less well known is that it has been illustrated by more than ninety artists – making it the most widely illustrated book in the English language. However, ‘Willows’ is a far more interesting book than its popular and often young audience might appreciate. It deserves recognition as a novel in which adult readers will find not just humour and entertainment but wisdom and meaning. In this engaging presentation we will revisit the story as depicted by numerous well known illustrators such as E H Shepard, Arthur Rackham, Robert Ingpen, Val Biro and Inga Moore. Where appropriate we will compare and contrast the same scene in the book through the eyes of different artists, a study known as ‘comparative illustration'. We will also explore how the story came to be written for Grahame’s son Alastair and the interesting but ultimately tragic life of Kenneth Grahame. May 4th 2022 Three Great Families and their Gardens: A History of the Astors, the Rothschilds and Sackville Wests Lecturer: Caroline Rayman This talk combines the lives of the Astors, the Sackville Wests and the Rothschilds and their family history with the story of the gardens they have all created, despite their very different backgrounds, here in the English countryside. June 1st 2022 The Splendours of North Africa, Roman and Islamic Art Lecturer: Christopher Bradley Fabulous mosaics, imposing carved monuments and impressive private villas attest to the great wealth of Leptis Magna, Cyrene, Oea, Sabratha and Carthage. They became so powerful that the Libyan Septimius Severus even became Emperor in AD193. The Romans were replaced by the Byzantines, who introduced their own Christian-themed mosaics into North Africa. Islam quickly swept in from Arabia bringing a new architecture and decoration that has remained ever since. Mosques, mausoleums and private houses in Fez, Rabat, Kairuwan and Tripoli often re-used Roman columns, but were lavishly enhanced with ‘Zillij’ tilework and delicate arabesque decorations. July 6th 2022 Athens and Rome: A Tale of Two Cities Lecturer: Dr Paul Roberts Athens and Rome were two of the most beautiful, powerful and important cities of the ancient world, cities that have framed our modern lives more than any others. Each stood at the centre of its world: Athens the home of democracy, the cradle of the arts, Rome the eternal city, the capital of the world. In this talk we explore the art and architecture of these extraordinary cities at the height of their power. We wonder at their monuments, from Parthenon to Pantheon, from stadium to circus and from theatre to amphitheatre. We admire the products of their craftsmen, from the bronze and marble masterpieces of the Greeks to the fine paintings and mosaics of the Romans, and from the Red figure vases of Athens to the silver cups and cameo glass of Rome. We also look at the people who helped make these cities great. From slaves, who were the engine of both societies to statesmen such as Pericles, Augustus and Hadrian, and writers such as Euripides and Vergil.
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