Oundle Meeting Place:  Barnwell Village Hall.  Coffee will be served from 10am. Meetings commence at 10.50 am.  Guests are welcome but it is essential to telephone the Membership Secretary on 01832 272084 or email: janemorris24c@gmail.com.  Guest fee is £10.00 per meeting Programme for 2017/18 Friday October 20th 2017 Threads of History: the World of the Bayeux Tapestry Rupert Willoughby Commissioned by the Bishop of Bayeux who fought at Hastings, executed by skilled English craftsmen, the Bayeux Tapestry is the last survivor of a vanished art form. Rupert Willoughby presents a lively introduction to the tapestry – so much more than the story of Hastings – in which he unravels some of its mysteries, places it in the context of its age and firmly establishes it as a landmark in the history of Western art. With its lively illustrations of languid, party-loving, moustachioed Englishmen, of the cavalcades of noble huntsmen and of the snorting Norman cavalry poised to charge into battle, the Tapestry is the next best thing to a moving picture from the time. See the Tapestry in full. Friday November 17th 2017 The Horse and Modern Art from George Stubbs to Mark Wallinger Nicholas Watkins The horse is so rooted within the psyche of the Western imagination that it has maintained its expressive power, as the current production of War Horse so eloquently testifies. The lecture traces major themes from Stubbs, the greatest horse painter of all time, to Degas, Duchamp-Villon’s Large Horse, a modern metaphor of horsepower, Munning’s horses as defining images of Englishness, Picasso’s agonised horse in its death throes in Guernica (1937) which expresses the horrendous destruction of the city in the Spanish Civil War. The lecture concludes with the very diverse ways in which our leading contemporary artists have made use of the expressive power of the equestrian image. Mark Wallinger’s gigantic 50 metre high horse will soon loom over the Kent countryside in Ebbsfleet. Wallinger’s horse Friday December 15th 2017 Christmas Customs and Traditions: Origins, stories, legends, truths and untruths about what we do at Yuletide Richard Box This lecture takes the form of a quiz. It is a light-hearted presentation of many serious, but also, amusing beliefs, subjects and activities, concerning this 'yule-tide' season. Christmas Traditions Friday January 19th 2018 Les Parisiennes: How Women Lived, Loved and Died in Paris from 1939-1949 Anne Sebba Les Parisiennes is a story about women’s lives during the dark years of Nazi occupation and beyond and includes British and American women caught in Paris as well as native born resisters who were eventually sent to camps, couturiers and jewellers, some of whom flourished in wartime, as well as actors, singers, night club dancers and housewives. The lecture opens with a magnificent circus ball held by Elsie de Wolfe at the magnificent Villa Trianon, a chateau in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles; many of the guests could not believe that war was imminent and ends with Christian Dior’s lavish new look in 1947 as well as a perfume, Miss Dior, named after his sister Catherine, a resister, who had only just survived a prison camp and never wanted to talk about her experiences. Friday February 16th 2018 Capability Brown and the English Landscape: the birth and death of the English landscape movement James Bolton When Capability Brown refused a fee of £1,000 to work in Ireland because “he had not yet finished England”, it marked the high tide of the English Landscape Movement. His birth in 1716 signalled the end of the Baroque age and his death in 1783 heralded all the excesses of Romanticism. The intervening years witnessed the greatest contribution Britain has made to Art. The death of formality and the decline of baroque architecture went hand in hand with a change in the political climate following the deaths of Queen Anne in 1714 and Louis XIV in 1715. This is the age of the Grand Tour and the Whig party, of Lord Burlington, William Kent and Neo- Palladianism.  It was the Augustan Age, with Britain, almost unconsciously, trembling on the edge of Empire. Brown’s important years as head gardener at Stowe, where he learnt from both Cobham and Kent formed the basis of his subsequent independent practise based in Hammersmith. From here Brown surveyed and transformed England from Milton Abbey to Alnwick Castle. The change in taste and mood, driven by the increasing fondness for Gothick architecture and Romantic wildness and disorder in landscaping, caused Brown’s work to fall from favour as dull and formulaic. Landscapers like Repton ushered in a revival of formalism and so the wheel turned full circle. Reading list: Capability Brown Dorothy Stroud Faber and Faber 1975 Capability Brown & the Eighteen Century English Landscape Roger Turner Phillimore 1985 The Omnipotent Magician Jane Brown Chatto & Windus 2011 Background to Capability Brown Capability Brown web site Friday March 16th 2018 Inspired by Stonehenge Julian Richards Stonehenge is the most celebrated and sophisticated prehistoric stone  circle in the British Isles. This lecture explains why Stonehenge must be regarded as architectural in its layout and construction, embodying  techniques that for centuries convinced antiquarians that it could not have been built by ‘primitive’ ancient Britons but must be a product of ‘sophisticated’ Romans. We then explore how, over the last two centuries, this iconic structure has inspired painters, potters and poets. Blake, Turner, Constable and Moore are amongst those who have all been drawn to this magnificent ruin, resulting in a diverse catalogue of images and impressions. Finally, we will look at Stonehenge as a global icon and how it’s instantly recognisable stones now grace tea towels in Wiltshire, phone cards in Japan and stamps from Bhutan. Is Stonehenge ruined? EH Stonehenge web site Friday April 20th 2018 The Art and Culture of fin-de-siècle Vienna Gavin Plumley At the turn of the last century, Vienna was the capital of a vast empire and one of the most exciting artistic laboratories in the world. It produced painters such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, architects like Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Josef Hoffmann, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the composer Gustav Mahler and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Looking at these and others figures in the context of the society in which they worked, this talk asks how and why the City of Dreams became a cultural hotbed around 1900. Kokoschka Self-portrait of a 'Degenerate Artist' Friday May 18th 2018 Medical Gold: From ancient Egypt to the Nobel Prize James Grant From earliest times man has linked the lustre of gold with the warm, life giving light of the sun. This talk illustrates four thousand years of the history of gold in medicine. The ancient Egyptians used it for its magico-religious properties. Mediaeval alchemists strived to produce it as a source of eternal youth. Today it is a substance used in medical instrumentation, investigation and cutting edge therapies. This lecture illustrates how artists such as Rogier Van Der Weyden, Joseph Wright and Gustav Klimt, as well as numerous goldsmiths and instrument makers, have defined medicine’s relationship with the most coveted of all the elements. The lecture ends by describing how the ultimate “medical gold”, the Nobel Prize, has acknowledged some of the fundamental advances in medical science. Uses of gold in medicine Gold used in surgery Friday June 15th 2018 Sinner or Saint?: The changing image of Mary Magdalene Sophie Oosterwijk Who was Mary Magdalene? Western artists such as Hugo van der Goes, Donatello, Caravaggio and Titian depicted a bewildering variety of depictions of the saint: as an opulently dressed former courtesan holding a jar of ointment, but also as a repentant sinner, sometimes revealingly dressed yet clasping a skull and crucifix, or with her body entirely covered by hair. The saint as we know her in the West is actually a conflation of four different female characters from the gospels, including the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10), the woman who was cured of seven demons (Luke 8), and the woman to whom the risen Christ first appeared (Mark 16). Moreover, there are also medieval legends, such as the story that she was the bride at the biblical wedding at Cana or that she travelled to France after the Crucifixion and ended her life in penitent seclusion in Provence. This lecture will explain the fascinating stories and startling depictions of this popular saint in western art. Penitent Mary Magdalene by Nicolas Régnier, Palace on the Water, Warsaw
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