January 11th TOULOUSE LAUTREC AND BOHEMIAN PARIS – Martin Heard
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) is one of the most popular French painters of the late nineteenth century. It is his art that illustrates and epitomises the compelling image and ‘Bohemian’ lifestyle of the Belle Époque period of 1890s fin-de-siècle Paris. He had an extraordinary capacity for observation and facility for the realistic and imaginative treatment of many diverse subjects.
Despite his infamously hedonistic lifestyle, his output as an artist was prodigious, and he worked hard to become a master of many different techniques and media (most notably that of colour lithography). In his hands, advertising posters were raised to high art, and he portrayed the nightlife and demi-monde of Paris — circuses, cafés, dance halls and brothels — with clear, bold colour and a certain seamy panache that is instantly recognisable. The lecture discusses aspects of Toulouse-Lautrec’s private life and, in context, the ideal of the Bohemian Paris that he inhabited.
February 8th A DANCING FAUN – A PERSONAL STORY OF A MASTERPIECE – Berty Pearce
In this lecture Bertie recounts the extraordinary tale of how a small bronze statue, which had sat in his Grandfather’s garden for 40 years, was discovered as a master piece and ended up in the Getty Museum, California. Adriaen De Vries (c.1556-1626) was a Northern Mannerist sculptor born in the Netherlands. A technical virtuoso, he created spectacular bronzes for the most discerning patrons of his time, including the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of Prague.He excelled in refined modelling and bronze casting and in the manipulation of patina and became the most famous European sculptor of his generation.
March 8th TRICKS OF THE TRADE – LOOKING INTO PAINTINGS – Frank Woodgate
Edgar Degas said that “A painting requires as much fraudulence, trickery and deception as the perpetration of a crime” and, while this may be a slight exaggeration, it has a ring of truth. Artists can manipulate colour, form, composition and subject-matter (even facts!) in order to explore universal themes such as life, death, feelings, or politics, and to engage our emotional participation in the work. In this lecture we will see how Delacroix, Matisse, Kandinsky and others use colour, composition and subject matter to engage our emotions or provoke a response. We will examine the way that modern treatments of traditional genres, by artists like Rubens or Manet, can add to, or change, our understanding of the subject and its message. We will also explore the way in which Leonardo, Poussin and Beckmann, for example, frequently manipulate perspective, composition and reality in order to deceive us.
April 12th AT THE SIGN OF THE FALCON – John Benjamin (Lecture changed due to Illness)
The life and works of Harry Murphy – Goldsmith, Silversmith and unique Englishman!
May 10th CHINAMANIA – THE IMPACT OF CHINESE PORCELAIN ON EUROPEAN TASTE, COLLECTING AND DISPLAY – Jane Gardiner
When the very first Chinese porcelains found their way to Europe, the beauty and fragility of the material led to their being mounted with precious metal and treasured alongside other rare and exotic objects such as ostrich eggs and rock crystal vessels. They were housed in cabinets of curiosities and exchanged as diplomatic gifts between great European rulers. This early and exclusive ownership of Chinese porcelain spread enormously in the 17th century with the opening up of trading routes be-tween Europe and the Far East and led to a widespread fashion for housing and displaying collections of Chinese ‘blue-and-white’; and spawned a whole range of European imitations. This lecture will examine the enormous and long-lasting influence that these Chinese porcelains had on European taste and culture and the whole history of interior design.
June 14th WHAT EXACTLY ARE THE DECORATIVE ARTS – Andrew Spira
The word ‘decorative’ is usually associated with functional objects like tea pots; but if such objects are functional, how can they be purely ‘decorative’? Is not a painting, which has no other function than to decorate a room, more ‘decorative’ than an object that is used? The first lecture in this series will look at the background to the development of the notions of ‘fine’, ‘decorative’ and ‘applied’ art, and how the fortunes of the fine artist and the mere craftsman fared from the Middle Ages to the present day.
July 12th DRESSED TO THRILL -THE ART OF THE JAPANESE KIMONO – Marie Conte-Helm
The kimono, literally meaning ‘wear’ (ki) and ‘thing’ (mono), is a traditional garment worn by both men and women in Japan. But it is so much more than that. Rich in symbolism and encapsulating the best in textile design and techniques through the ages, the kimono has a fascinating history that reflects wider aspects of Japanese life and culture. From everyday kimono to wedding kimono to the elaborate dress of Japanese geisha, this lecture will trace the story of the kimono, its past and its present, and the place that it occupies in the world of contemporary fashion.
September 13th PHOTOGRAPHY COMES OF AGE – Roger Mendham
From the very first, grainy image created in 1826, photography has evolved into a major art form. Developments in photography have posed challenges to more traditional art genres and it interesting to see how some of the great artists have adapted to using cameras as part of their work. This talk looks at photography over the past nearly 200 years, looking at key advances in technology and the inter-relationship with art movements. The work of pioneering women photographers is particularly interesting, and the talk concludes with examples of some great photographs that have been sold for millions of dollars at auction.
October 11th LAURA ASHLEY – THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THOUGHT ABOUT HOUSES AND CLOTHES – Anne Sebba
‘Laura Ashley’ – the name that has become an international byword for the classic English countrywoman living in bliss. But what was Laura Ashley the woman really like, behind the façade of the family-based company that not only used her name, but also was moulded on her personal image? And how did she manage to change the way we all dressed and decorated our homes in the 1970s?
November 8th TREASURES OF THE SILK ROAD – THE ART OF ASIA AND BEYOND – Christopher Bradley
The Silk Road extends over 8,000 kms from China through Central Asia to the Mediterranean. The route acted as a highway for beliefs, ideas, inventions and art, whilst silk was just one of the many valuable commodities traded for 1,400 years. With the Greek invasion of Alexander the Great, early Persian routes spread east towards India. Chinese stability finally allowed the trade of silk, jade and ceramics in exchange for horses, pearls and gold. The wonderful paintings in the Magao caves at Dunhuang are evidence of the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road. Samarkand and Bukhara are the beginning of the great Islamic buildings that continue through Persia and Syria. Along the way we will see traditional murals, ceramics, statues, carpets, architecture, tile-work and of course silk itself.