Afternoon lectures start at 14:30 and evening lectures at 19:00.
Lectures will be held at The Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street, EH2 3DH, hopefully from November onwards. Our evening lectures are also live streamed online.
Tuesday 14 February 2023
Anne Galastro: Great Opera Houses of the World, from Venice to Valencia
Opera Houses are found in most of the world’s great cities, a potent symbol of high culture.
Historically they have been accommodated in buildings of immense luxury, epitomised by the
glorious mid-19th century Paris Opéra. The art form originated as an extravagant court spectacle
in Renaissance Florence and soon spread throughout the Italian city states, with Venice opening the first public opera house in 1687. Since then, the form has undergone many transformations, ranging from the iconic Sydney Opera House to more recent examples in Oslo and Valencia.
The lecture will explore this opulent building type from its origins to the present day.
Tuesday 14 March 2023
Anne Sebba: Not Just an Obelisk: William Bankes – the exiled collector and the
man behind the creation of an English country house
Obelisk is the Russian word for obituary, and it is fitting that the ancient Egyptian obelisk in the
grounds of Kingston Lacy is known as “William’s obelisk”. It’s a fine obituary since he had no
others to speak of. His “moment of madness” ensured that. But for years many people thought
that represented the sum of William’s classical collection. This lecture will show William Bankes,
the Cambridge friend of Byron, as a serious collector of Ancient Egyptian artefacts and Spanish
paintings as well as some fine – and some less fine – Italian decorative art, and the high price he
paid for Victorian morality judging him. Kingston Lacy has been restored by The National Trust.
Can William himself be restored in this talk?
Tuesday 11 April 2023
Imogen Corrigan: Antonello da Messina
Without any doubt Antonello da Messina stands out as the greatest renaissance artist Sicily produced.
Although he travelled to the mainland and up to Venice, most of his professional life was spent in his home city of Messina producing works of exquisite beauty. One of his strengths was in being able to learn new techniques and styles, adapting them to his own particular style. It has been said that he was always able to catch the moment of the mind and it is true that the faces that look out from his paintings are those of real people.
His use of Netherlandish limpid light combined with northern Italian use of perspective and detailed symbolism make his pictures, once seen, unforgettable.
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Toby Faber: The Genius of Antonio Stradivari
Nearly three hundred years after Antonio Stradivari’s death, his violins and cellos remain the most highly prized instruments in the world. Loved by great musicians and famously valuable, their tone and beauty are legendary.
Every subsequent violin-maker has tried to match them. Not one has succeeded. How can that be?
This lecture explores that central mystery by following some of Stradivari’s instruments from his workshop to the present day. It is a story that travels from the salons of Vienna to the concert halls of New York, and from the breakthroughs of Beethoven’s last quartets to the first phonographic recordings.
Toby Faber’s book Stradivarius: Five violins, one cello and a genius, was described in The New York Times as ‘more enthralling, earthy and illuminating than any fiction could be.’ The lecture is illustrated with pictures of violins and of key individuals and location, as well as with some short musical recordings.
Tuesday 13 June 2023
Paul Roberts: Rome in Africa: Africa in Rome
This talk looks at the beautiful art and fascinating, complex society of Roman North Africa, the modern countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Though different, then as now, in history and ethnicity these countries formed an important part of the Roman Empire, which fully exploited their incredible natural resources, from the fish of Morocco to the grain of Tunisia, the olive oil of Libya and the fabulous agricultural and mineral wealth of Egypt.
Roman influence spread through these provinces, in architecture: baths, theatres, temples – and in art: mosaics frescoes and sculpture; but in the other direction a flood of imports from North Africa: goods, ideas and people, were very influential in Rome’s religion, art and society.
Some Africans even became Emperor, including Septimius Severus, one of Rome’s greatest.