Open to Members only or Guests accompanied by MembersLectures start at 10.45am    Coffee is served from 9.45-10.30am      Venue

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Friday 26 July 2019 – The Queen of Instruments: The Lute Within Old Master Paintings

Lecturer: Adam Busiakiewicz

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.

Friday 27 September 2019 – Secret Art in the Passport – how we use it to fox the forger

Lecturer: Martin Lloyd

From the wax seal to the microchip, man has exploited the skill of the artist and artisan in his attempt to manufacture a forgery-proof document. Taking you through three centuries of passport design, this lecture explains the overt and uncovers the covert to illustrate the defences built in to the passport and the tricks the forger uses to defeat them. You will never see your passport in the same light again!

Friday 25 October 2019 – The Painted Church: Medieval wall paintings in English cathedrals and churches

Lecturer: Michael Rosewell

Before the Reformation the walls of cathedrals and churches were lavishly painted with decorative patterns and figurative imagery depicting biblical stories, the miracles of Saints, Last Judgement themes, and a range of other subjects including Christian pieties and Warnings against sins and transgressions. This richly illustrated lecture explains the history of these paintings and their meaning, the subjects they showed, how they were painted and by whom. Style, inspirations, techniques and pigments are among the aspects discussed. It concludes with a description of modern conservation methods.

Friday 22 November 2019 – Edouard Manet and Music

Lecturer: Lois Oliver

Music was a constant theme in Manet’s life and art. His wife Suzanne Leenhoff was a gifted pianist, and regular musical soirées were held at the Manet family home. His pictures of musicians and their audiences range from major early canvases depicting itinerant gypsy musicians and Spanish dancers, through to paintings encompassing the full range of Parisian musical culture, from private performances to street entertainment, café concerts and the Paris Opera. Bringing together Manet’s art and the music that inspired him (including Spanish flamenco, Haydn string quartets, Wagner piano reductions, café songs, and opera highlights) this lecture immerses you in Manet’s world.

Friday 24 January 2020 – Salvador Dali: 20th Century Renaissance Artist

Lecturer: Julia Musgrave

‘The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret’ – Salvador Dalí’

Like the Renaissance artists he admired, Salvador Dalí did not restrict his creative output to painting but was also a writer, poet, engraver, sculptor, architect, photographer, theatre designer, and jewellery designer. As well as designing the latter, Dalí selected the materials to be used, focusing not just on the colours or the value of the material, but also on their symbolic meanings. Jewels such as ‘El cor reial’ (1953, The Royal Heart) have become iconic works and are considered to be as exceptional as his paintings. He also was an omnivorous reader who was as interested in science as he was in art and in this his work also reflects the Renaissance artist he admired. This lecture explores the work of Dalí the designer and science enthusiast – a Renaissance artist in the 20th century.

Friday 28 February 2020 – Sacred of Ancient China

Lecturer: Jon Cannon

Join me to tour the religious art and architecture of China. We will see examples of work of the great faiths that dominated the history of that great civilisation, including the ancient, indigenous Confucian and Taoist traditions; the image-rich Mahayana version of Buddhism that has been hugely influential in the country for two thousand years; and the distinctive Chinese responses to Christianity and Islam.

At the heart of this rich, and often precociously humanistic culture lay a series of concerns of truly ancient origin: the maintenance of harmonious relations between men and Heaven; respect for one’s family, including the spirits of one’s ancestors; and the role of the Emperor as the fulcrum of life in the ‘central Kingdom’, a role as much spiritual as secular.

During the lecture we will visit mountain-tops decorated with Confucian calligraphy; some of the oldest wooden buildings in the world — the Buddhist temples of Wutaishan, built in the eighth century and with their decoration and sculpture intact — and Mandarin’s gardens, their design infused with symbolism from Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian traditions. These between them comprised the ‘three teachings’ (San Jiao) encouraged by the imperial Chinese state.

Even today, Beijing’s layout is recognisably that of a sacred city designed around the palace and sacrificial altars associated with the imperial cult: we will see what remains of these, and ponder the role of religion in China’s modern, secular and rapidly developing state. By the end of the hour, you will have a clear and vivid idea of the enormous significance of religion for the Chinese arts.

Friday 27 March 2020 – A View from the Plinth: a critical look at public sculpture

Lecturer: Mary Yule

A light-hearted but critical review of public sculpture today. Since antiquity, sculpture has transformed public spaces, celebrating and commemorating people and events and, at best, reflecting the spirit of the age. Contemporary public sculpture is more diverse and often aims to meet political, social or corporate agendas, yet at best, it can provide an enlivening and sometimes controversial focus for our public spaces. The lecture discusses many successful examples of public sculpture today, like the Angel of the North, Richard Serra’s Fulcrum at Broadgate and the series of commissions for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, plus some that are less successful. It also looks to the future and to works not yet realised, like the White Horse at Ebbsfleet – and much more besides.

Friday 24 April 2020 – Master Drawings Close Up

Lecturer: Susan Owens

What is silverpoint drawing? How can you tell the difference between a quill and a reed pen? This lecture looks in detail at the materials and techniques used by some of the greatest masters, including Leonardo and Raphael. It also explores innovative contemporary drawings made by laser-cutting, pricking, rubbing and tearing.

Friday 22 May 2020 – The Bayeaux Tapestry: 950 years of propaganda, intrigue and spin

Lecturer: Timothy Wilcox

The Bayeux Tapestry is instantly recognisable and one of the most outstanding cultural objects to survive from the early Middle Ages. Long admired for its vivid narrative, today it is the unanswered questions that most intrigue modern audiences: was it made in England or France? Was it stitched by men or women? This sparkling lecture looks not only at its creation, but also at its more amazing afterlife.
Displayed by Napoleon to bolster French ambitions for a new cross-channel invasion; cherished by Victorian embroiderers as an icon of women’s heroic joint efforts; hunted down by Hitler, who was outwitted by bureaucratic obfuscation.
A fluent French speaker, Timothy Wilcox brings a lifetime’s interest in Anglo-French relations to bear on a famous object set to become even more celebrated as it enters its next, surprising chapter.

Friday 26 June 2020 – Furniture of the Common Man – Vernacular furniture

Lecturer: Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski

A look into the lives of ordinary people through their furniture. Most furniture in museums and books is representative of the wealthier social classes and so tells us little about the living conditions of the ‘humbler classes’. Vernacular, in the sense of ‘every day’ and ‘common’, furniture was seldom ‘crude’ or ‘primitive’ and often displayed as much sophistication in construction and design as more costly items. This lecture focuses on the period 1600-1800 but also looks at earlier and later items.

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