Lectures commence at 8pm via Zoom
When social distancing rules allow, the lectures will take place at:
The Reach Free School, Long Lane, Rickmansworth, WD3 8AB

Non-members are welcome to watch our lectures: £7.50 per lecture

Monday 14 September 2020        

Who was Bruegel? Discovering the Master Through His Sons. Lecture by Amy Orrock

Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569) was an undisputed master; his small body of surviving paintings demonstrating his supreme ability to depict the daily life of the peasants with both humour and humility. This lecture will introduce Bruegel as a distinctive artistic voice in the 16th Century, and consider the ways in which his revolutionary images were transmuted and popularised after his death in the works of his two sons, Pieter Bruegel the Younger (1564/5-1638) and Jan Bruegel the Elder (1568-1625).

Amy Orrock is a Curator at Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park. Amy completed her BA Hons at University College London and received her PhD from the University of Edinburgh with a dissertation on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s painting Children’s Games. She has published and lectured widely on Northern European art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and in 2017 co-curated the exhibition Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty at the Holburne Museum in Bath.

Children’s Games: Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Monday 12 October 2020        

Auguste Rodin and 19th Century Sculpture. Lecture by David Worthington

Auguste Rodin is one of the heroic figures of 19th Century art history and was internationally celebrated during his lifetime. But after his death his reputation slipped and there were questions about his use of the female image. Now that view is being reassessed and he is seen as having – in a single career – taken sculpture on a revolutionary path that was equivalent to what the Realists, Impressionists and Post Impressionists did for painting with many careers. This lecture surveys Rodin’s work showing why he is one of the greatest sculptors, looking at his work in relationship to 19th Century sculpture as well assessing his continuing relevance.

David Worthington graduated from Oxford University in 1984 with a degree in Philosophy and Theology, and then studied Fine Art in London, Barcelona and New York. As well as being a sculptor, he also curates and writes about art. He was shortlisted for the Jerwood Sculpture Prize in 2009. David is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Sculptors, and was Vice President in 2010-13. He has carried out public commissions in the UK, America and Japan and has work in the Creative Cities Collection in Beijing, China. He has had solo shows at the Lefevre Gallery, Sladers Yard, Horatio’s Garden, the William Bennington Gallery, the Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and in October 2017 at the Lightbox Gallery Museum, Woking.

The Kiss: Auguste Rodin. Tate Britain, London

Monday 9 November 2020        

Wassily Kandinsky and the Birth of Abstraction. Lecture by Natalia Murray

One of the pioneers of abstract modern art, Wassily Kandinsky exploited the evocative interrelation between colour and form to create an aesthetic experience that engaged the sight, hearing and emotions of the public. He believed that total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process. Highly inspired to create art that communicated a universal sense of spirituality, he innovated a pictorial language that only loosely related to the outside world, but expressed volumes about the artist’s inner experience. In this lecture, we will look at Kandinsky’s paintings and the origins of his first abstractions, as well as other Russian artists who developed non-objective art in Russia.

Natalia Murray was born in St Petersburg where she gained BA and MA in Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts before taking the PhD course at the Hermitage Museum. At present, she is a visiting lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art and a senior freelance curator. In 2017, she curated a major exhibition Revolution. Russian Art. 1917-1932 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and is currently working on exhibitions of Malevich and Kandinsky in Paris.

Blaues Bild (Blue Painting): Wassily Kandinsky. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

Monday 14 December 2020        

The Genius of Beethoven. Lecture by Peter Medhurst

Famously, every morning of his adult life, Beethoven measured out exactly 60 coffee beans for his breakfast.  A man who is capable of such discipline over a cup of coffee can surely apply that exactness elsewhere in his life; and in Beethoven’s case, it was applied to his compositions. In fact, the detail found in his music is often so subtle, that most people don’t even know it’s there. The lecture explores Beethoven’s genius as a writer of music, at the same time setting his extraordinary story against the backdrop of 19th Century warfare, revolution and dramatic social changes. 

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as a musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

Monday 18 January 2021        

The Studio-Houses of the Holland Park Circle. Lecture by Daniel Robbins

In the second half of the 19th Century, an extraordinary group of purpose-built studio-houses were built on the edge of London’s Holland Park. At their centre was the house built by Frederic Leighton from the mid-1860s. With its vast studio and exotic Arab Hall, it provided an inspiration to other artists who commissioned houses of their own. Combining domestic accommodation with studio space and space in which to entertain, these houses provide fascinating insights into the wealth, status and taste of successful artists of the period. The lecture explores the houses of the Holland Park Circle to determine why these artists invested so much in the creation of their homes and the uses they then put them to.

Daniel Robbins is Senior Curator, Museums with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and is responsible for two of London’s most significant house museums: Leighton House Museum and 18 Stafford Terrace. Formerly with Glasgow Museums, he has organised many exhibitions and contributed to numerous catalogues and publications around 19th Century art, architecture and design, including the authorship of the companion guide to Leighton House Museum published in 2011. He was responsible for leading the award-winning project to restore the historic interiors of the house completed between 2008 and 2010 and is now leading an £7 million refurbishment project addressing the additions made to the building in the 20th Century.

The Arab Hall in Leighton House, Holland Park, London

Monday 8 February 2021        

Vaux le Vicomte “Fit for a King”: The Inspiration Behind Versailles. Lecture by Carole Petipher

French 17th Century chateau design owes much to one man – the ambitious visionary Nicolas Fouquet, who is still something of an enigma today. He seemed invincible but made one grave error of judgement which was to lead to his downfall. He employed the country’s best talent of the day to commission and create a spectacular chateau for himself – Vaux le Vicomte. In doing so, he completely outshone the Sun King; while Vaux le Vicomte presented a radical new look for the century, Versailles was nothing more than a humble hunting lodge at the time. The story that ensues is legendary. This lecture explores innovative garden design and architecture together with lavish interiors to tell the shocking story.

Carole Petipher is an experienced guide and lecturer on combined history and art tours in France with 20 years’ experience. Having lived and worked on a number of bespoke river vessels and converted barges there she has used them as a platform from which to research her lectures. She uses art in all its guises to explore the characters that shaped France and likes to delve behind the scenes to discover hidden truths.

Interior of Chateau Vaux le Vicomte: architect Louis le Vau

Monday 8 March 2021        

Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four. Lecture by Anne Anderson

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now regarded as one of Britain’s greatest architects but his potential was never fully realised during his lifetime and he ended his days in obscurity. The role played by his wife Margaret Macdonald, her sister Frances Macdonald and Herbert MacNair has also been obscured: Mackintosh himself claimed that, while he was talented, his wife was a genius. Margaret certainly played an important part in the creation of those wonderful white interiors designed for Vienna in 1900 and Turin 1902 and it was Margaret who was largely responsible for the decoration of the furniture – the addition of beautiful beaten pewter panels with their distinctive ‘spooky ladies’. The Macdonald sisters – inspired by Japanese works of art, the English Arts and Crafts movement and the graphics of Aubrey Beardsley – helped to create the Glasgow Style. This lecture will explore the Four’s work in Glasgow through their major commissions for the Glasgow School of Art, the Hill House, Helensburgh, and Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms.

Anne Anderson was a senior lecturer in Art and Design History at Southampton Solent University for 14 years. Her book on the Perseus Series was published for the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition in 2018. She has held several prestigious fellowships including Fellow of the Huntington Library in California (2008 and 2018) and Fellow of the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Library and Museum in Delaware (2009/10). Currently a tutor for the V&A Learning Academy, Anne specialises in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Spring: Frances Macdonald. Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow

Monday 12 April 2021        

Thomas Gainsborough. Lecture by Mark Bills

Gainsborough transformed British art. Portraiture and landscape painting were different things at the outset of his career in the 1740s compared with what they were at his death in 1788. He took both genres to new heights and remains one of the most beloved figures of British art. The lecture explores the development of this very British genius through his paintings and his own words and looks forward to the new developments at Gainsborough’s House as it creates a national centre for the artist.

Mark Bills studied at the Slade School of Art and at the universities of Birmingham and Manchester. He was Curator at the Watts Gallery and is now Curator of the Gainsborough Museum and lectures regularly at the Tate, Russell-Cotes Gallery, Museum of London, Guildhall Art Gallery, Bristol University and Mercer Art Gallery. His publications include George Frederic Watts: Victorian Visionary (2008), The Art of Satire: London in Caricature (2006) and William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age (2006).

Mr and Mrs Andrews: Thomas Gainsborough. National Gallery, London

Monday 10 May 2021        

The Cultural History of the Huguenots. Lecture by Sue Jackson

The Huguenots came to England in huge numbers in the late 17th Century bringing a wide variety of skills – as silk weavers, silversmiths, clock makers, opticians, bankers, gilders, ironworkers, horticulturists and more. Names such as Paul de Lamerie, Samuel Courtauld and Jean Tijou spring to mind. In virtually all areas, they were innovators and more advanced than the English who were forced to improve their own skills or go out of business. Although the majority settled in London, others found their way to East Anglia, Macclesfield and Canterbury. This lecture examines their lasting legacy.  

Sue Jackson has a background in art and design publishing and now lectures for the National Trust, U3A, City Literary Institute. A qualified Blue Badge Guide, she gives guided walks on various themes and has published work on the lost world of the River Fleet.

Emigration of the Huguenots: Jan Antoon Neuhuys. Private collection

Monday 14 June 2021        

The Bronzes of Ife and Benin and a Historical Review of the Art And Sculpture of Nigeria. Lecture by Dr Richard Thomas

Africa is not generally associated with great art but Nigeria is associated with three major artistic traditions: the 2,000-year-old Nok terracottas of the north; the Bronzes of Ife from the 12th to the 15th Centuries; and the later Benin Bronzes. Richard lived in Nigeria in the 1960s, near Ife, and became familiar with the art of Ife and Benin and the role they played in society. The art, the technology (using the lost wax process) and the cultural relevance of the Bronzes will be illustrated and discussed in his lecture.         

Richard Thomas completed an MA in Canada in Development Studies, and a PhD from Trinity College, Dublin in History and Political Science. His career as an academic and as a political and institutional analyst in the field of International Development enabled him to travel widely in Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He always sought to understand the arts and culture of the country or region in which he was living or working in since they illuminate the past and help to explain the present.

Bronze Head from Ife. British Museum, London

© Chorleywood Fine Arts 2021