2019-20 Season 

2.15pm Borwick & Priest Hutton Memorial Hall. 

Tea/coffee available before and after lectures.

Guests by prior appointment with the Membership Secretary - £5 guest charge per meeting. 

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Grinling Gibbons, Carver to the Crown

Caroline Knight

Gibbons (1648-1721) came to England from the Netherlands, and developed a virtuoso style of carving, well suited to the Baroque interiors of late 17th century England. His limewood carvings with their festoons of fruit, flowers, fish and game embellished Windsor Castle, Hampton Court, and Kensington Palace, as well as country houses such as Petworth and Belton. His work was commissioned for public buildings and churches, and he also worked in marble, making church monuments. Two superb wood carvings are in the Victoria & Albert Museum: his Lace Cravat and the relief panel of The Stoning of Stephen.

Caroline is an Architectural historian, trained at the Courtauld and specialising in 16th to 18th century English and Scottish architecture. She is a lecturer at the V&A on year courses and short courses, and a lecturer for the Art Fund, and for the Royal Oak Foundation in the US.  She researched and wrote a history of Kensington Palace, contributed to a book on the Cecil family, and has written several articles on architectural and social history and the history of travel. She wrote London's Country Houses (2009) and contributed a chapter to a history of the Royal Academy (Yale, forthcoming).

Tuesday 19 March 2019

From Chocolate Box to Jackson Pollock:  Materials and Techniques of Constable’s Great Landscapes

Sarah Cove 

Constable’s famous ‘six-footers’ include some of his most well-loved paintings: The White Horse (1819), The Haywain (1821), The Leaping Horse (1825) and Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (1831). Their compositions were derived from small pencil and oil studies and for each Constable painted a full-size oil sketch. These ‘six-foot’ sketches were unique and extraordinary creations in the early 19th century and wee unseen by all but his family and closest friends during his lifetime. This lecture is based on Sarah Cove’s extensive research on Constable’s oil painting carried out over 30 years of the Constable Research Project.  She describes his diverse painting methods in oil sketches, studio studies and exhibited pictures, illustrated by highly detailed images taken during technical and scientific examination of these works.  Constable’s dynamic late works and artistic temperament are brought to life in a new and exciting manner, revealing a ‘Jackson Pollock of the 1830s’.  You will never look at these ‘chocolate box’ pictures the same way again – guaranteed!

Sarah Cove has worked as a paintings conservator, technical art historian and lecturer since the mid 1980s.  She founded the Constable Research Project in 1986 and is now the recognised authority on John Constable’s painting materials and techniques.  In 1988 she was a Visiting Fellow at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, USA.  She is a regular consultant to international museums and galleries, private collections and salerooms.  She has published and lectured widely in the UK and abroad, including essays in Tate’s ‘Constable’ (1991) and ‘Constable: The Great Landscapes’ (2006) exhibition catalogues.  She has appeared in a number of TV programmes, including ‘Constable in Love’ with Andrew Graham-Dixon and BBC One’s ‘Fake or Fortune?’.  She has lectured on Constable’s ‘six-footers’ at the V&A, London, and the National Museum Cardiff as part of the Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows Aspire project.


Tuesday 16 April 2019

Virtual Realities:  the Art of Fresco

Nicole Mezey, BA, MA, FHEA, FRSA

Fresco is the supreme medium in which one can track the ideas and the accomplishments of the Italian Renaissance, from Giotto’s work in the Arena Chapel to Michelangelo’s painting for Popes in the Sistine Chapel. For secular leaders, wall painting cycles created the opportunity to create a virtual world which enhanced their status, in the church they brought a new immediacy and impact to the presence and meaning of the divine story, but what was their appeal for the artist? Why did they consider it "the sweetest and most subtle form that exists"? Why was this particular form so perfectly suited to the aspirations of the age? This lecture illustrates the complex technique involved and explores some of the great projects of the age to understand the fascination and significance of fresco for rulers, clergy and painters. 

Nicole studied Art History at the Universities of Sussex, York and Paris. She was Senior Lecturer at Queen's University until 2009, working primarily with adults, managing and teaching on both the Part-Time degree and Extra-Mural programmes and conducting annual, international study tours. She also established the Department of Art History, the first in the north of Ireland. Nicole now lives in central London and is a freelance lecturer, working for organisations including National Museums, the National Trust, Queen's University and private cultural bodies. She is a guide lecturer for tours and will shortly embark on her second lecture tour of New Zealand for The Arts Society and ADFAS in Australia. Her publications focus on adult education and the arts.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795), The Ultimate Renaissance ruler and Fine Art Collector  

David Rosier 

The Emperor Qianlong was arguably the greatest of all Qing Emperors as he guided China through a period of unquestionable political, economic and cultural prosperity, which rivalled any comparable period of high achievement in Chinese history. Territorially Qianlong added more than 30 per cent of landmass to the Empire through successful military campaigns and astute diplomacy. He was passionate about preserving Manchu culture whilst respecting and nurturing other ethnic Chinese cultures. Qianlong travelled his Empire regularly undertaking lavish expeditions to the South and West designed to forge loyalty to his Imperial rule. Despite all these successes as a ruler it is in the fields of the sciences, arts and culture that Qianlong made the greatest contribution to China’s heritage. Qianlong was a noted scholar who during his lifetime wrote and published over 43,000 poems, painted on virtually a daily basis and was accomplished in the art of calligraphy. It was perhaps as a Collector of Fine Art that Qianlong created his greatest legacy. He amassed a treasure trove of hundreds of thousands of works of art from previous dynasties or which represented the finest current workmanship. His collection spanned all genres of the arts including paintings, porcelain, jade, textiles, enamelling, ivory carvings and snuff bottles. This lecture will provide an insight into Qianlong not only as a successful Emperor of China but also as a scholar and ‘ultimate’ collector of fine art. A wide range of items of the highest quality, produced by the Imperial Workshops, will illustrate this lecture. 

David Rosier is a Chartered Insurer by profession and a Fellow of the Assurance Medical Society, with extensive international experience as an author and lecturer in Medical Risk Assessment. He has in excess of 25 years of working and living in Asia, focusing on business in Asia and China, in particular, and for 14 years he and his family lived in Hong Kong.. Whilst living in Hong Kong  he and his wife, Wendy, created a collection of in excess of 500 Qing Dynasty costume and dress accessories and related items. He is a past Committee Member of the Hong Kong Textile Society.  

Since returning to the UK, David has lectured extensively on the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) Chinese Court Costume and Imperial History, Art and Culture to groups as diverse as the National Trust, Adult Education groups, Confucius Institutes, The Art Fund plus Oriental focused societies, university department and museums.  


Tuesday 18 June 2018

Restoration Dramas: How some of Britain’s best-loved buildings were saved from destruction  

Brian Stater  

This lecture tells the story of the outstanding artistry and craftsmanship that rescued key examples of our architectural heritage.  We open with an account of how the great dome of St Paul’s Cathedral was found to be close to collapse in the 1920s, and why its restoration inspired one of the most extraordinary drawings ever produced of a British building.  Other examples include the rescue, after fire, of key parts of Castle Howard, and the remarkable reconstruction of one of London’s smallest and oldest churches, following an IRA bomb. 

Brian’s chief interests lie in photography, architecture and history and he combines all three in his lecturing career. He has taught at University College London, since 1997 and became an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society in 2003. He is a member of the Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography and an exhibition of his own photographs has been staged at UCL. In an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the skills of some great photographers of the past, he has begun to work with a pre-War Leica camera, as used by his great hero, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and many others.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Painting with a needle: 18th century embroidery for gentlemen and botanists  

Susan Kay-Williams 

By the 18th century the dyers had learned how to make a much greater range of colours and we see the growth of two particular activities - embroidered clothes and embroidered art. In particular this period saw the birth of the gentleman’s three-piece suit comprising waistcoat, jacket and breeches all adorned with matching embroidery.

It was also the period of botanic art, based on the finds of the plant hunters, but, as Mrs Delany showed, flowers could be depicted in paint or in thread. Through silk shading the concept of painting with a needle was born and this lecture will show some of these amazing pieces where the observer believes they could actually pluck or even smell the flowers, so lifelike do they look. 

Susan is Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Institute of Marketing and in 2015 was made a Fellow of the Society of Dyers and Colourists in recognition of her work on the history of dyes. Susan has a longstanding interest in textiles, especially colour, and published her first book, The Story of Colour in Textiles (Bloomsbury) in 2013. She has extensive lecturing experience and has been invited to lecture in the USA, Canada, China, Japan and Taiwan as well as for the V&A and across the UK. 

Tuesday 15 October 2019

The Importance of Living up to One’s Teapot: Collectors and Critics through the Ages  

Lars Tharp 

Since the 1500s there have been three main waves of China Mania in Europe. Starting with Medici Florence, Lars charts each ceramic collecting surge, with especial attention given to Oscar Wilde who, with artists including the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and James MacNeill Whistler, provided much merriment for Punch cartoonists and for the hilarity of Gilbert and Sullivan. A sideways look at Collecting.

Lars is a Ceramics as well as a Hogarth specialist. Most of his current talks focus on the European and the East-West China trade and the material world of the 17th and 18th century. He is a regular lecturer and broadcaster and leads occasional tours to China. Born in Copenhagen, he read Archaeology at Cambridge, was at Sothebys for sixteen years, and is today London's Foundling Museum's 'Hogarth Ambassador'. He holds an Honorary Doctorate in Art, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and sits on the court of The Company of Weavers, London's oldest guild. He has served twice on the Art Fund's Annual Prize to Museums and Galleries. He has presented numerous programmes on TV and radio, he writes on many subjects, is passionate about music and shares Archie (a black Labrador) with his wife and their two grown-up daughters.  Further information can be found on his website.


Tuesday 19 November 2019

The Magnificent Maya: Fact and Fantasy

Diane Davies 

The Maya created one of the most sophisticated civilizations in the ancient world.  Their achievements in the arts and sciences, along with their complex social, political and economic systems, make them one of the most remarkable culture groups in the Pre-Columbian Americas. These people brought us an intricate calendar system, complex hieroglyphic writing, some of the largest pyramids in the world, a form of ballgame that was like no other and most importantly chocolate! This lecture will discuss the major achievements of the Maya, as well as pointing out the common misunderstandings we have of this remarkable civilization.

Dr Diane Davies is a Maya archaeologist and honorary research associate of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She completed her PhD at Tulane University, New Orleans. Little is known about the Maya in the UK and so aside from carrying out research in Guatemala and teaching, Diane is an educational consultant for schools giving workshops to both teachers and children on the Maya. She has created award-winning resources, organizes trips to the Maya area and is also the Chair of Chok Education, a charity supporting the education of Maya children. Diane organises conferences on the Maya as well as lecturing to a variety of organisations, including the City Literary Institute, London and the Historical Association.


Tuesday 17 December 2019

Stocking Fillers from Fabergé

Clare Phillips

Although the Russian jeweller Carl Fabergé is best known for his magnificent Imperial Easter Eggs, these represent only one aspect of his firm’s great creativity. This lecture examines the exquisite jewellery, vivid enamelled boxes and trinkets, intricate hard-stone figures and naturalistic flower studies that were the mainstay of his success, and which delighted his customers throughout Europe. It will be a visual feast, in which we escape into the most privileged realms of Edwardian Christmas shopping. Fabergé’s mastery of precious metals, enamels, gems and hardstones is explored through his jewellery, boxes, hard-stone figures and flower studies. A visual feast, in which we escape into the most privileged realms of Edwardian Christmas shopping.

Curator specialising in the history of jewellery, based in the Department of Metalwork, Silver and Jewellery at the V&A.  She is the author of Jewellery from Antiquity to the Present (Thames & Hudson, 1996) Deco (V&A, 2003) and International Arts and Crafts (V&A, 2005).  Curator of Bejewelled by Tiffany (Gilbert Collection, 2006).  MA in the History of Design from he Royal College of Art, 1989.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Café Cosmopolitanism in a pre-Starbucks Age: La Rotonde in Montparnasse  

Tricha Passes  

The lecture examines the central role played by café culture on emerging artists in turn of the century Paris.  Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Beatrice Hastings and Henri Hayden were just some of the circle of creative talents who visited the renowned café La Rotonde in Montparnasse, which became a mecca for avant-garde talent.

Tricha took her BA(Hons) at the Courtauld Institute, University of London and won the Sotheby’s Prize for a research project on Edvard Munch and the Christiana Avant-garde.  Her MA studies were undertaken in the Visual Culture Department at Bath Spa University.  Her thesis examined the work of Roger Fry and Roland Penrose. Former research posts include work on ‘150 years of the Bristol School of Art’ (2003),  ‘Peace Gardens of the 1980’s’ (2005) and  'Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere', published by Prof. Paul Gough (2006).