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2014-15 season's lectures

Feb 10
Peter Warwick

Lecture date: October 14th 2014

The Divine Michelangelo: the Power and the Glory

Art, Power and Conflict in the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti: exploring the life, work and personality of the man they called divine
Leslie Primo MA, BA

 

We have all heard of the great Renaissance master Michelangelo, indeed the recent Michelangelo blockbuster sell-out exhibition at the British Museum only served to confirm the continued interest in this artist. But how much do we really know about his life and work, how did he become such great artists, was he as famous in his own lifetime as he is now, was he rich in comparison to our modern times, and where and how did he learn his craft? How long did it take Michelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel ceiling, how did he do it, what was his relationship with the papacy and his contemporaries such as Raphael, indeed how real was the competition and struggle for dominance between artists?

This lecture will explore the life of this long-lived artist from his early career and influences including his training in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio and working methods, from his early fame establish in discipline sculpture to the triumph of 'David', his first forays in the medium of paint, thorough to Michelangelo's ultimate triumph - the Sistine Chapel frescos. Finally this lecture will look at Michelangelo's late, so-called presentation drawings, his late sculptures, and long life peripatetic existence which finally ended in Florence. Through the exploration of Michelangelo's extraordinary long life this lecture will aim to provide the listener with an insight into the life of the great Renaissance master and ultimately an understanding of his works through the historical and social context within which this artist worked.

Short Bibliographic Reading List:
• Bull, George (ed), Giorgio Vasari: Lives of the Artists, (Penguin Books, 1987) Vol: I & II
• Cellini, Benvenuto, (Bull, George, trans & intro) Autobiography, (Penguin Classics, 1998)
• Chapman, Hugo, Michelangelo - Drawings: Closer to the Master, (British Museum Press, 2005)
• Dunkerton, Jill & Hirst, Michael, Making and Meaning: The Young Michelangelo (National Gallery Publications, 1994)
• Levey, Michael, Florence: A Portrait (Pimlico, 1996)
• Thompson Jnr, Daniel V, (trans), Cennino d'Andrea Cennini: The Craftsman's Handbook - Il Libro dell'Arte (Dover Publications inc, 1960)

Leslie entertained us with "The Cult of the South Pacific: from Cook to Gauguin" in November 2011.

Lecture date: November 11th 2014

Foot prints of Dutch Masters: Amsterdam - The Hague - Delft

Old Masters and New Museums
Helen Sijsling MA

 

This promises to be an exciting trip through old cities, gems of the Dutch Golden Age, old masters in excitingly renovated museums, stunningly extended museums and new museums!

Amsterdam: Rembrandt´s home in the 17th c, Holland´s Golden Age, a very rich period for the Dutch, money wise and art wise! It produced the most beautiful urban extension, the canal belt, a world heritage site, where the rich commissioned houses and paintings to furnish them! The canal belt has now got its own museum to tell its history. The 19th c urban extension, the Museum square, with its Concertgebouw and 3 important museums to house the Dutch Masters: the Rijksmuseum, completely restored and reopened in 2013 after 10 years, the van Gogh Museum which has a new entrance between the old 19th c building and the 20th c wing, and the Stedelijk Museum for modern art which has just opened a revolutionary extension in the shape of a gigantic bathtub.

The Hague: home of the King and Queen, Parliament and the International Court of Law and also the 17th c Mauritshuis which, after being restored and extended with a new building and connected by a subterranean tunnel, opened in June 2014. It is the home of Vermeer´s Girl with the Pearl Earring. The Hague is also home of the Hague school of painters, a group of 19th c Dutch impressionist painters like Mauve, Breitner and Mesdag who painted Holland´s largest painting, 15 x 115 metres.

Delft: small Amsterdam with canals, a beautiful 17th c city, home of Vermeer, so where The Girl with the Pearl Earring was born! Though it does not own any Vermeer paintings it is now the proud owner of a new museum, the Vermeer Centre, where it has copies of all 37 of his paintings and an extensive exhibition of his life and works and painting technique. Also home to the Royal Delft Blue factory, dating from the 17th c, and so present in many 17th c Dutch masters.

Lecture date: November 25th 2014

Granada, a Story of the Opposite Hill

a walk through the Islamic City of Granada in the 15th Century
Rafael Anderson Although the Alhambra is one of the most visited historic monuments in Spain and we are familiar with the myths and legends surrounding its kings and queens, few of us are given a glimpse into the lives of the ordinary people who lived on the opposite hill in the Albayzin. This lecture takes the form of a pictorial walk through the Islamic city of Granada in the 15th Century, looking at the culture and architecture and piecing together the quality of its everyday life from the patterns, textures and hidden treasures that have survived.
Albayzin
approaching medieval Granada
Piri Reis map of Granada


He talked to us last season about the 'Bilbao effect' on Spanish architecture.

Lecture date: December 16th 2014

ln the wake of Handel: the impact of Handel on 300 years of British Culture

Peter Medhurst

 

Despite his German birth and his Italian musical training, Handel remains one of the most important composers that England ever nurtured. Not only did his music have direct influence on his musical contemporaries, but his larger-than-life personality had a profound effect on the literary, visual and decorative arts as well - both in his lifetime and after his death, in 1759. By exploring the works of the French sculptor Roubiliac, the paintings of Hudson and Denner, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, the novels of Samuel Butler, the Crystal Palace, the chimes of Westminster, as well as compositions by Sullivan and Tippett, the lecture assesses the cultural influences Handel had on a nation, as he once wrote, "from whom I have receiv'd so Generous a protection".
Music performed may include:
Handel in the Strand - P Grainger,
Tune Your Harps from Esther - GF Handel,
My Voice Shalt Thou Hear Betimes, O Lord - J Corfe,
This Helmet I Suppose was Meant to Ward off Blows from Princess Ida.



Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith theme played by Peter Medhurst:

Lecture date: January 13th 2015

The Majesty of Rembrandt: Chiaroscuro and the Autumn Palette

David Cross PhD

 

Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the world's greatest artists. The drama of his lighting effects and the warmth of his palette have been celebrated for generations. This lecture sets out to demonstrate the breadth of his work and is presented chronologically. Rembrandt triumphed in the treatment of a considerable range of genres: self portraits, portraits, religious paintings, historical paintings and literary and mythological subjects. In tandem with the paintings I shall reflect upon the key moments of his biography and consider recent discoveries in Rembrandt studies.

Lecture date: January 27th 2015

Getting the Shot. Adventures in Bird Photography from Spain to Saigon

Stephen Powell

 

In this lecture I will revisit the old debate "Is photography art?" I will take examples of the work of some famous and successful photographers to illustrate what goes into the making of a great picture. I will then show how I try to incorporate some of these artistic principles into my own photographs in general, and in particular of the birds of Spain and Europe, America and S E Asia.

Lecture date: February 10th 2015

The Tragic Beauty of Ice

Peter Warwick

 

The film and photography of Herbert Ponting and Frank Hurley, and the paintings of Dr Edward Wilson and George Marston capture the wonderful world of Antarctica for the first time. Their images enthralled a whole nation with their beauty and prepared the way for today's television natural history programmes. They are a poignant legacy because of the hardship and tragedy that haunts them.

Lecture date: March 10th 2015

One Architect, Two Temples and Three Museums: the Adventures of Charles Robert Cockerell

Stephen Kershaw PhD

 

The architect Charles Robert Cockerell, who won the first Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1848 and was president of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1860, had some amazing adventures in Greece during his 20s. Drinking with Byron, excavating stunning artworks, bribing Turkish pashas, auctioning his finds, and sometimes only escaping by the skin of his teeth, he acquired the sculptures of the Temple of Aphaia on Aigine (now in the Munich Glyptothek) and the Temple of Apollo at Bassai (now in the British Museum), and incorporated certain features of the latter into the design of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. This talk, illustrated with both photographs and video footage, follows his itinerary from England to Turkey and back, examines the temples and their beautiful decoration, and raises interesting issues surrounding the collection and retention of antiquities.

Lecture date: March 24th 2015

Mystical Paintings and Poetry: from El Greco and John of the Cross to Lorca

Rev. Daniel Muñoz

El Greco

Dalí
Poets, painters and prophets have often inhabited the same skin. Art as a human expression of the divine search is present in all religious traditions. In this lecture we will explore some of these connections and enter into conversation with some of the most inspirational and influential works of the Spanish Golden Age and the early twentieth century. You will be invited to read paintings, by El Greco and Dalí, and to see through words, especially through the poetry of John of the Cross and Lorca. We will also discover something about the world of these men, and how the spiritual and the carnal, the sensual and the sexual, the human and the divine worlds engaged with each other in creative tension.

 

 

 

Lecture date: April 14th 2015

Goya's painting "The Third of May 1808"

Gail Turner

 

 

Goya painted the Third of May for a Republican government to commemorate the Spanish revolt against the French during the Peninsular Wars - an uprising against Napoleonic rule that led to the birth of modern Spain. As a political event it still resonates today; as a painting it remains a most powerful and haunting image of war. It is arguably one of the first great political paintings. The lecture looks at the political and artistic background of this painting, and its influence on Manet and Picasso.

Lecture date: May 12th 2015

Venice: British and American artists in Venice: Sickert, Sargent, Turner, Whistler and Ruskin

Julian Halsby

 

This lecture is based on Julian's book about British and American artists who discovered Venice in the early 19th century starting with Turner and progressing through Samuel Prout, John Ruskin, Clarkson Stanfield, Myles Birkett Foster, Whistler, Sargent, and Walter Sickert as well as some of the lesser know artists. he looks at the social life of the British and Americans living in Venice, a society centred around the Curtis family at the Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal, where Sargent, Henry James and others stayed. He looks at Ruskin's Stones of Venice, the first guide book to Venice, and how the arrival of the railway brought tourism and money to what was a very poor city. He looks at why Whistler was in Venice and how he produced a wonderful series of etchings and pastels over the course of just 18 months.