Lectures 2021/2022 Membership Year October 2021 - July 2022 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. New Membership Year 2022/23 (further details shortly) Dates for your diary 05/10/22 Charles R. Hajdamach Emile Gallé and René Lalique - Masters of Art Nouveau and Art Deco Glass 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. Click here for background on Galle Click here for background on Lalique 02/11/22 Janusz D. M. Karczewski-Slowikowski The Gillows Story and its Furniture The history of this most famous of furniture firms and an examination of pieces which exemplify the styles and techniques associated with it. Click here for Gillows’ history 07/12/22 Cynthia Coleman-Sparke The Faberge Connection between Russia & England: Edwardian Demand for Treasures from St Petersburg. Our discussion of the House of Fabergé’s British enterprise will delve into Edwardian appetite for objects of fantasy prized by Tsarinas. Most of the firm’s Russian sales ledgers disappeared but those of the London branch, opened in 1903, document royal patronage and a ‘Who’s Who’ guide of Edwardian prosperity. American heiresses and other prominent visitors flocked to the London salerooms while the branch supplied periodic trunk shows to delight buyers on the Continent and as far as Siam and India. The role of the London business cannot be overstated and provides us, today, with insight into a society that was forever altered by the world events that followed. Click for the exhibition at the V&A 04/01/23 Richard Burnip David Niven – from Extra to an Institution Niven's remarkable career explored, with an examination of his enduring place in public affection. Rising from studio extra to Hollywood leading man, although Niven remained characteristically modest about his abilities they were in fact considerable, as this lecture demonstrates. Particular attention is paid to his military roles, and insights are offered into the huge range of his wartime activities. From his personification of an ideal young subaltern in The Way Ahead, to the reality of being a Lt.-Colonel on Eisenhower’s staff, there was much more to this unique actor than a moustache and a smile. Click here for more on David Niven 01/02/23 Adam Busiakiewicz Joshua Reynolds - Destroyer of Pictures? Techniques and Conservation Eighteenth century Britain was an age of romanticised elegance captured politely in paint. In contrast, Sir Joshua Reynolds pushed the boundaries of composition and materials through endless experimentation. His constant attempts to replicate the painting techniques of the Old Masters resulted in some of the triumphs of Georgian British Art. Whilst much of his work survives, his experimentation with oils, waxes, pigments and other ingredients of painting alchemy, many are in poor condition and pose conservation conundrums. In addition to Reynolds’s development as a painter, this lecture will discuss the various scientific methods undertaken to revive, and in some cases resurrect, his valuable and important paintings. 01/03/23 John Iddon Lucian Freud – The Art and the Man Possibly the greatest figure painter of the second half of the 20th century, Lucian Freud, also led an extraordinary life, from his family’s escape from the Hitler regime in the 1930’s to his colourful and combative life in London. This talk will look at his unforgettable paintings (many of which have a penetrative scrutiny that is almost the visual equivalent of his grandfather Sigmund’s analysis of patients) as well as his relations with his models and fellow artists. Click here for Lucian Freud at the Tate 05/04/23 Rosamund Bartlett Magyars & Gypsies – Liszt & the Hungarian National Style The celebrated pianist and composer Franz Liszt was one of the most cosmopolitan figures of the nineteenth century. Yet with the rise of Hungarian nationalism, he was increasingly seen as the soul of the Magyar people, a position solidified with his wildly popular Hungarian Rhapsodies. But what exactly was Hungarian about these Rhapsodies? And why did Liszt and other composers associate Hungarian music with gypsies? This lecture explores what it was to be Hungarian at the time of the creation of the new capital city of Budapest in 1867, and why Liszt’s much younger contemporary Bartok later challenged his view of the Hungarian national style. 03/05/23 James Russell Paul & John Nash – Brothers in Art Growing up together in the shadow of their mother's illness, Paul and John Nash emerged as artists at the same time, exhibiting their work in a joint exhibition in 1913. The following year they both enlisted in the Artists' Rifles, and both served on the Western Front before working together as war artists. Both subsequently explored wood engraving and book illustration, but otherwise their art moved in different directions and, while remaining close, they each sought to distance themselves from the tag of 'the Nash brothers'. It could be the plot of a novel, but every word of this intriguing, personal story of brotherly love, strife and competition is true! History of Paul & John Nash 07/06/23 Gillian White Bess of Hardwick & Hardwick Hall ‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’. Bess of Hardwick is one of the most fascinating women of the sixteenth century and her most famous building, Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, survives as a fine example of Elizabethan creativity, magnificence and pride. We’ll examine Bess’s story, her rising social status, her association with Mary, Queen of Scots, her many husbands and her royal aspirations. We’ll also look at her earlier great house, Chatsworth, before concentrating on her surviving masterpiece, Hardwick Hall, its architecture, its interior and its luxurious furnishings. 05/07/23 Joanna Mabbutt The Field of the Cloth of Gold – 6000 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? The history of the Field of Cloth of Gold
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