Programme 2022 12th May 2022 Rupert Dickens Through a Glass Darkly - Vermeer & The Camera Obscura The tranquil and meditative paintings of Johannes Vermeer are among the best-loved artworks in the world. Relatively little is known about the master from Delft but that has not deterred a torrent of publications about him, both fictional and scholarly. One of the most hotly debated topics in Vermeer literature is his supposed use of the camera obscura. We will tackle this controversy head on by investigating the history of optical devices in art and examining the latest theories on Vermeer’s technique. It will be a great opportunity to look at Vermeer’s beguiling body of work afresh through a different lens. Camera Obscura Photo: Heinrich Sturzl 9th June 2022 John Benjamin At the Sign of the Falcon:The Life & Works of Harry Murphy Goldsmith, Silversmith & Unique Englishman H G Murphy’s greatest misfortune was to die just before the start of the Second World War. The designs and inspirations of the pre-war era were simply seen as passé and totally out of keeping with the new spirit of modernism which quickly grew after the Festival of Britain in 1951. Harry Murphy served his apprenticeship under Henry Wilson, probably Britain’s greatest designer goldsmith of the Arts and Crafts era. Here he learnt a wide range of skills and techniques including enamelling, gem-setting and polishing, niello, engraving and hammering. From 1928 until his death in 1939 he worked from retail premises in Marylebone, London, known as the Falcon Studio where he designed and created a prodigious amount of silverware for the corporate, civic and private sectors as well as some truly startling gold, silver and enamel jewellery inspired by nature, architecture, the Ballet Russes and the vibrancy of the Jazz Age. 8th September 2022 Peter Ross Shakespeare’s First Folio 1623 How was one of the most important books in the English Language created by Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors seven years after his death? How was the book put together, what was missing and without it would we have truly have lost eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays? This lecture looks at the creation of the book, its structure and design, the people involved in the extraordinary project and the subsequent history of some of the copies and their distribution across the world. 13th October 2022 Giles Ramsay Terence Rattigan – Passion Restrained One of the highest paid and most successful writers of his day, Terence Rattigan (along with Noel Coward), was to fall out of favour in the 1950's with the rise of the Angry Young Men. This lecture examines the stark contrast between pre and post-war British theatre and how we, in the C21st, can now reassess which playwrights really stood the test of time. Portrait 1974 Photo:Allan Warren 10th November 2022 Mariska Beekenkamp—Wladimiroff Women in the Dutch Republic Independent, vocal and brave, the Dutch women were different enough for various 17th century visitors to Holland to note in their diaries and letters that they had never seen anything like it! What set them apart and why, this one hour lecture will illustrate the pragmatic Dutch and their strong women. 8th December 2022 Graham Jones A Very Ceremonial Christmas Find out, in this very light-hearted lecture, about the various ceremonial events that take place around Christmas time. Carol services, concerts and even Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace and Windsor all play their part. How do the Chelsea Pensioners prepare and celebrate the festive season? All will be revealed so, come along and feel wrapped in a blanket of Christmas loveliness. 2023 12th January 2023 Jacky Klein A Picture a Day – Peggy Guggenheim. The Birth of Mid Century Modernism This is the story of how the socialite and muse Peggy Guggenheim became one of the greatest collectors in the history of modern art. Friends with the leading cultural figures of her day – including Cecil Beaton, Jean Cocteau, Barbara Hepworth, Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Fleming, Djuna Barnes and Igor Stravinsky – she was photographed by Man Ray and Andre Kertesz, took advice from Marcel Duchamp and married – among others – the artist Max Ernst. She moved with ease between the social elites of New York and the bohemia of Paris. This talk asks why it was that – seemingly out of the blue – Guggenheim started collecting contemporary art in the 1930s? What impact did her subsequent galleries in London and New York have on artists and the wider art world? How and why did her name become inextricably linked with the city of Venice? And how did a New York heiress play such a pivotal role in the making of mid-century Modernism? 9th February 2023 Janusck Karczewski-Slowikowski Are you sitting Comfortably? - The History of the Chair A lecture on the development of the chair in terms of its construction and style from ancient times through to the 19th century and also its use as a symbol of power and authority in courtly ritual. May 2023 Annalie Talent Great & Small: Writers, Their Pets & Other Animals He prayeth best, who loveth best/All things both great and small… Samuel Taylor Coleridge From Robert Burns’s mouse to Shelley’s skylark; from Wordsworth’s butterfly to Keats’s nightingale; throughout the Romantic period, animals often inspired great writing. This lecture focuses on the creatures that have been loved, lost and immortalised by some of our greatest writers. We begin in the 18th century, with Gilbert White recording in minute detail the behaviour of his pet tortoise, Timothy. We then turn to the Romantics - including Byron, who wrote more movingly about his love for a dog than he did for any woman. We end by taking a look at some Victorian writers’ pets, and discover how these animals inspired their owners – and other authors. Along the way, we explore why writing about animals increases during the Romantic and Victorian periods, and what this tells us about changing attitudes towards them during this time. 8th June 2023 Barbara Askew Happy & Glorious: The 70th Anniversaries of the Accession & Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth 11 2022 is the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and 2023 marks the 70th Anniversary of her Coronation, events which are unique in the history of our nation. This lecture celebrates these events and looks at the evolution of the coronation ceremony from Saxon times to that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. It examines the different stages of the ceremony from the Recognition through to the Homage and explains the significance of the different items of the Coronation Regalia. Finally, the lecture gives an account of the ill omens and memorable mishaps which have occurred at coronations throughout the centuries and ends with the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, the first to be genuinely witnessed by the people through the medium of television. 14th December 2023 Peter Ross The Curious History of Christmas Food The foods we eat at Christmas have a long, curious and visually spectacular history. This lecture narrates and illustrates that history from Medieval boar’s head and brawn, by way of highly decorated seventeenth century mince pies to the almost forgotten Twelfth Night Cake. Medieval illuminated manuscripts, paintings and prints from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, and illustrations from cookery books provide us with images of some of the lost glories of the British Christmas feast.
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