We hope to hold all our 2022 Monday lectures in St George’s Hall, Blockley. Should circumstances prevent this, members will be notified and any affected lectures will be delivered online via Zoom.
Lectures will be held at 2.30pm for a 2.45pm start.


Anne Sebba

The Dollar Princesses: American women who married into the European aristocracy and whose wealth helped preserve houses and estates

Between 1870 and 1914 hundreds of American heiresses flooded the shores of continental Europe, trading fortunes for titles. They were known as The Dollar Princesses and included Consuelo Vanderbilt at Blenheim and Mary Curzon at Kedleston. These marriages – dubbed by some as gilded prostitution – were usually hard-headed matches plotted by the parents. They may have kept many a grand estate from collapsing but few provided lasting happiness when the fairy tale was exposed. This lecture examines the clothes, the portraits, the jewels and the literature of The Dollar Princesses.

Anne Sebba is a biographer, historian and author who lectures to a variety of audiences in the US and UK. A former Reuters foreign correspondent, Anne is now a broadcaster who has presented documentaries for Radio 3 and Radio 4 and regularly appears on television talking about her books, mostly biographies including Jennie Churchill, William Bankes, Laura Ashley and Wallis Simpson. Her latest book is Ethel Rosenberg a Cold War Tragedy (published 2021). Anne is a former chair of Britain's 10,000 strong Society of Authors and a Senior Research Fellow at The Institute of Historical Research.


Adam Busiakiewicz

Sir Joshua Reynolds – destroyer of pictures?

Eighteenth century Britain was an age of romanticised elegance captured politely in paint. In contrast, Sir Joshua Reynolds pushed the boundaries of composition and materials through endless experimentation. His constant attempts to replicate the painting techniques of the Old Masters resulted in some of the triumphs of Georgian British Art. Whilst much of his work survives, many of his experimentations with oils, waxes, pigments and other ingredients of painting alchemy are in poor condition and pose conservation conundrums. In addition to Reynolds’s development as a painter, this lecture will discuss the various scientific methods undertaken to revive, and in some cases resurrect, his valuable and important paintings.

Adam Busiakiewicz is an art historian, lecturer and lutenist. After completing a degree in History at UCL in 2010 he was Head of Historical Interpretation (curator) at Warwick Castle. He left to pursue a Masters in Fine and Decorative Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and he is currently finishing his doctorate in Art History at the University of Warwick. Adam is a lecturer/educator at the National Gallery and guide lecturer at the Wallace Collection and has also given talks and performances at the Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Adam is also the co-editor of arthistorynews.com, one of the internet’s most popular art history blogs.


Professor Andrew Hopkins

The Guggenheims: New York, Venice & Bilbao

The Guggenheim family managed to amass extraordinary art collections and design or acquire astounding buildings in which to display their art, their name even becoming a brand. This talk, based on the lecturer’s experience working at the Guggenheim in Venice, examines the celebrated museums in New York, Venice and Bilbao, as well as the stunning works they display.

Andrew Hopkins has been Associate Professor at the University of L’Aquila since 2004. Previously he was Assistant Director of the British School at Rome. Part of his PhD (Courtauld Institute 1995) on Venetian architecture was awarded the Essay Medal of 1996 by the Society of Architectural Historians (GB). He was a Fellow at Harvard University's Villa I Tatti in Florence in 2003-2004 and in 2009 was the Paul Mellon Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

MONDAY 16 MAY 2022

Linda Smith

Paula Rego: painting women on the edge and telling tales of the unexpected

This lecture looks at the life and work of Dame Paula Rego, a British artist of Portuguese origin best known for her depictions of folk tales and strikingly unusual images of women. Married to the British artist Victor Willing (1928-88), Rego settled in Britain in the 1970s but her career here began in the early 1960s, when she exhibited with artists like Frank Auerbach and David Hockney. Her reputation built steadily. She became the first Associate Artist at the National Gallery and has gone on to earn global recognition and many prestigious awards. The lecture will consider the complicated narratives of Rego’s work, which is full of psychological tension, drama and emotion together with her, occasionally controversial, depiction of women and girls in disturbing or ambiguous situations and poses and her refusal to idealise or revert to cliché.

Linda Smith holds two first-class degrees in Art History and is a specialist in British and twentieth century art. She is an experienced lecturer and guide, especially at Tate Britain and Tate Modern and has lectured to a wide variety of audiences in different venues, including school and university students and independent arts societies in the UK and overseas.