11 October 2018: TEMPLES, TOMBS AND TREASURES: IN SEARCH OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

The Queen of Sheba's fame has endured for centuries. A passage in the Book of Kings immortalised her and the journey she made to the court of King Solomon, her caravan laden with gold, incense and gifts. The lecture will examine how the Queen of Sheba has captured the imagination of great artists, inspired epic films and led archaeologists to discoveries of great temples, tombs and treasures in Yemen and Ethiopia. Lecturer: Louise Schofield

8 November 2018 A PORTRAIT OF JEWELS FEATURED IN STUART AND JACOBEAN PAINTING


This lecture was devised after the speaker saw the Tudor and Stuart monarchs in all their finery at the National Portrait Gallery. Among the jewels he traces are pearls that belonged to Catherine de Medici, then Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I and now our own Queen. He will also tell the story of a spectacular diamond that belonged to Charles I, later worn by Marie-Antoinette, then stolen, bought by a Russian aristocrat and eventually mounted in a Cartier tiara for an American heiress. Lecturer: Andrew Prince

13 December 2018 WE THREE KINGS: MUSIC AND PAINTING INSPIRED BY THE MAGI

 

The Bible gives us very little information about the wise men who came from the East bearing the famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The only reference is in the opening chapter of St Matthew's Gospel and what information is given is surrounded by ambiguity and approximation. By contrast, there is no shortage of music, poetry and art that has been inspired by the Magi, and this lecture examines their impact on the culture of later generations. The lecture will include music. Lecturer: Peter Medhurst

10 January 2019: THE ART, ARCHITECTURE AND STYLE OF OLD SHANGHAI

The lecture follows Shanghai's history through its art and architecture, a potent mix of East and West. Shanghai developed as a treaty port after the 19th century Opium Wars, when imposing banks, offices and grand houses were built by Western trading companies in contrast to the humble yet picturesque local buildings. Shanghai's heyday came in the 1930s, when stylish apartment blocks and hotels were built in the Art Deco style. Much original architecture survived up to the 1990s, when the city emerged as a major Asian financial centre dominated by glittering skyscrapers and with a vibrant contemporary art market. Lecturer: Anne Haworth

14 February 2019 THE ENIGMA OF THE WILTON DIPTYCH

 
Ever since the mysterious double panel painting known as the Wilton Diptych was acquired for the National Gallery in 1929, speculation about its origins have been rife. Although many discoveries have been made about its subject, we are still none the wiser regarding its origins. Who are the characters in this painting, what are they trying to tell us and what can this painting reveal about England or even Europe at the turn of the 15th century? Why was this enigmatic painting produced and how has it come to represent the quintessential painting style we call International Gothic? Lecturer: Leslie Primo

14 March 2019 GOTHIC IRELAND: THE FURTHEST EDGES OF YOUR LIGHT ON EARTH

The lecture charts developments in Irish ecclesiastical and secular art and architecture from the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169 to the Elizabethan conquest of 1603. This period was not an attempt to turn Ireland into England, but rather to transform it into an image of feudal Catholic France, the great success story of 12th century Europe. Isolated at the very extremity of Latin Europe, Gaelic Ireland was suddenly plunged into the Francophile feudal world of Gothic art and architecture. Within a few years, stone-built castles, abbeys, friaries and walled towns sprang up in an almost virgin landscape and remain remarkably intact today. Lecturer: Mark Corby

11 April 2019 MUSEUM OF THE MISSING

A museum made up of all the stolen artworks that remain missing today would house the most valuable collection ever known. This lecture looks at missing masterpieces such as Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Man, Vermeer’s The Concert and the missing panel from the Ghent Altarpiece. The lecture will examine how these works were taken and the impact the thefts have had on society. Lecturer: Shauna Isaac

9 May 2019 THE ICON IN ART: THE PEACOCK

Birds were often used as powerful symbols in ancient mythologies. The owl represented learning in Athens, the eagle and swan were symbols of power in Roman art and the peacock is used in Eastern and Western art for its display of exotic beauty. Christian art adopted the peacock as a symbol of the resurrection and the Church, and classical myths associated with it were reinterpreted in 17th century art. Later, the peacock became a symbol of the appreciation of 'superfluous' beauty by the 19th century Aesthetes.  Lecturer: Antony Buxton

13 June 2019 EDITH DURHAM'S BOLD EDWARDIAN COLLECTION OF BEAUTIFUL BALKAN THINGS

Subtitled in Edith's own words "Such costumes as I have never seen before and never shall again perhaps", the lecture is illustrated with rich fabrics and great stories. Edith's travels in the first decades of the 20th century took her across the unexplored Accursed Mountains between Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania to what are now UNESCO World Heritage sites, and through bazaars she describes as "glowing with goods". In her watercolours and seven books she recorded the objects she collected, the landscapes she visited and the people she met. She was the first female Fellow and then Vice President of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Lecturer: Elizabeth Gowing

11 July 2019 JAMES TISSOT'S WOMEN

This lecture considers Tissot’s importance as an artist recording the lifestyle of the people around him, women above all. During the late 19th century, fashionable young women were frequently depicted as emblems of modern society, seeming to encapsulate the glamour and elegance of the urban scene. Tissot, along with painters like Manet and Renoir, made the portrayal of women a focus for his work, and unlike his Impressionist contemporaries, he achieved popular acclaim. Where the Impressionists challenged contemporary taste, Tissot was celebrated for works whose glossy finish and tasteful elegance seemed a perfect match for his subjects. Lecturer: Kathy McLauchlan