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.
MONDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2022
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.
MONDAY 21 MARCH 2022
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.
MONDAY 11 APRIL 2022
Temples, tombs and treasures: in search of the Queen of Sheba
The fame of the Queen of Sheba has lasted across the many intervening centuries since she made the epic journey from her distant land to the court of King Solomon. A passage in the Bible’s Book of Kings has immortalised her and the journey she made, her camel caravan laden with gold and incense as gifts for the king of Jerusalem. In this talk Louise looks at how the Queen of Sheba has captured the imagination of great artists, inspired epic films and has led archaeologists to go in search of her land – a search that has led to discoveries of great temples, tombs and treasures in both the Yemen and Ethiopia.
Louise Schofield is an archaeologist and lecturer. She was Curator of Greek Bronze Age and Geometric Antiquities at the British Museum from 1987-2000. Since then she has and continues to write, lecture and run international archaeological projects, previously in southeastern Turkey, Greece and Albania and currently in Ethiopia. Her current archaeological site in Tigray province, northeastern Ethiopia, is a temple, probably dedicated to a moon god and dating to the fifth century BC – a time when this area of Ethiopia formed part of the kingdom of Sheba. She has recently been appointed Visiting Professor of Archaeology at the American University of Rome.
MONDAY 16 MAY 2022
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.
MONDAY 20 JUNE 2022
'Gothic or Saracenic?’ The debt the west owes to Middle Eastern architecture … or how to read a mosque
Sir Christopher Wren wrote, ‘This we now call the Gothic manner of architecture. I think it should with more reason be called the Saracen style; for we borrowed from them, out of their Arabic books, what they with great diligence had translated from the Greeks’.
Part of Wren’s brilliance came from his wide-ranging knowledge of architectural styles and innovations. He wrote, without equivocation, that ‘Gothic’ architecture had nothing to do with the Goths but instead was clearly informed by its ‘Saracenic’ or mediaeval Middle Eastern origins. Wren showed admiration for those Saracenic architects not only in his writings but also in the very stones of his buildings, St Paul’s Cathedral among them. Highlighting these architectural links, this talk reveals familiar and much-loved buildings as you may have never seen them before.
Eamonn Gearon is an author, historian, recovering journalist and now lecturer who for more than 20 years lived and worked across the greater Middle East from Kabul to Casablanca. He is the author of three multi-million selling lecture series on Middle Eastern history and culture for The Great Courses and, in addition to entertaining general and widespread audiences, Eamonn has also designed and delivers Middle East and North Africa studies training for both the British and American governments.
MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2022
Murder and modernism: Walter Richard Sickert and The Camden Town Group
The Camden Town Group was an innovative circle of painters united by the desire to paint works of a modern character. They combined the techniques and visions of European Post-Impressionism with the changing modernity of Edwardian London. This lecture introduces the core members of the group, led by Walter Richard Sickert and tells the story of their brief but significant association. Key themes addressed within their work will be examined: urban life, popular entertainment and the lower social classes, as well as Sickert’s infamous series of paintings inspired by the notorious Camden Town murder.
Nicola Moorby is an independent art historian specialising in British art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She studied at the University of York and Birkbeck College, London. Formerly a curator at Tate Britain she has curated a number of exhibitions and has published widely on JMW Turner, including contributions to the forthcoming online catalogue of the Turner Bequest. She is also co-editor and author of How to Paint Like Turner (Tate Publishing, 2010). In addition, she has published on Walter Richard Sickert and is co-author of Tate’s catalogue of works by the Camden Town Group.
MONDAY 17 OCTOBER 2022
Canal history and heritage
This lecture provides a colourful introduction to the secret world of our 2000-mile inland waterway network and looks at all aspects of their exceptional artistic, architectural and engineering vernacular. Features range from sweeping aqueducts to tiny bollards; from colourful historic narrowboats to ‘Roses and Castles’ artwork; from grand World Heritage Sites to quirky listed buildings. A well known architectural historian once described our canals as a ‘poor man’s art gallery’.
Roger Butler is a landscape architect and an experienced writer, photographer and lecturer. He has a particular interest in the unique history, architecture and traditions of our canal network and has worked on some of the UK’s major canal restoration projects. He has also acted as a consultant to bodies such as Waterways Ireland, Natural England and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. He regularly contributes to waterway and heritage magazines and writes and provides images for a range of countryside and outdoor titles. Roger is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute.
MONDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2022
Art and technology today: new frontiers
This lecture looks at how new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, 3D printing and Big Data, voice recognition and projection mapping are changing the way art is made and experienced and asks where technology will take artists and the art world in the next decade. These technologies are currently experimental – and have their limitations – but the lecture will explore how they are set to develop as technology becomes ever more integral to our daily lives. Don’t be put off if you think you are a technophobe: all these concepts will be explained and, along the way, you will discover some of the most powerful examples of immersive tech art.
Jacky Klein is an art historian, publisher, writer and broadcaster, specialising in modern and contemporary art. After studying at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute she worked as a curator at a number of leading galleries including Tate and the Hayward before moving into art publishing with roles at Thames & Hudson, Tate Publishing and subsequently as Director of HENI Publishing, a small independent arts publisher. She is the author of a bestselling book on Grayson Perry and co-author of a number of other art-related titles. Jacky has presented and contributed to a range of programmes for BBC television and is a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Front Row. A public and passionate advocate for the arts, she is a Trustee of the UK Association for Art History and is currently Associate Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute on their Masters programme, ‘Curating the Art Museum’.
MONDAY 5 DECEMBER 2022
And so to bed
This lecture traces the significance and use of beds from the medieval period through to the 18th century both in terms of their association with the highest level of society as expressed through the great ‘State Beds’ and also the history of their construction, decoration and the, often costly, textiles associated with them. The significance of beds through the ages can be judged by the prominence given to them in wills and inventories: Shakespeare, in his will, left his wife Anne ‘my second best bed’ and modern day audiences may be surprised to learn that in times gone by, married or single, rich or poor, one never slept alone … . Look out for a wintery twist and a hint of Christmas too.
Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski is a freelance lecturer and researcher in English furniture history and a long-time antiques dealer. His lectures seek to explain furniture in terms of the skills and materials employed in its design and construction together with its socio-economic significance.