Past Lectures

The Great Glass Man of Ludgate Hill

Chinese porcelain

Tuesday 21st June 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Malcolm Lawrenson

John Blades, 1751-1829 opened his chandelier and glass show room at Ludgate Hill in 1783 and soon became world-renowned for the quality and intricacy of his glass design. His work was so famed that he received royal warrants to both the British and Persian courts. He rose from humble northern beginnings to become Sheriff of London and Middlesex, 1812-1813.

Posted by Malcolm Lawrenson in Past Lectures

Pomp, & Feast, & Revelry: The Medieval Year in Art

Medieval revelry

Tuesday 17th May 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Richard Whincop

Illustrated with rare medieval manuscripts as well as the work of renowned artists such as Bruegel, Dürer and Botticelli, this lecture offers a fascinating glimpse into a typical year as it unfolded in late medieval Europe – and explores the world view that underpinned the seasonal calendar.

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

Portmeirion – Italianate Fantasy Village


Tuesday 19th April 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Matthew Williams

Portmeirion is an extraordinary surprise; a colourful and delightful fantasy village on the coast of north Wales.  Created from the 1920s by the remarkable architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion was his personal defiance against the advance of modernism and what he saw as the despoilment of Britain. Matthew Williams also draws on some personal memories, as his uncle was Resident Director of Portmeirion for 30 years
Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

The Covent Garden Piazza from Inigo Jones to Bernard Shaw and Beyond

Covent Garden Piazza

Tuesday 15th March 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Daniel Snowman

Covent Garden was the first great square in London: an Italianate ‘piazza’ with colonnaded arcades and a Palladian church by Inigo Jones.  Over the centuries, Covent Garden has embodied all that is most characteristic of British cultural life: a state of grace which - as Bernard Shaw's Eliza Doolittle might have put it - must at times have seemed ‘not bloody likely!'

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

History of Cartoons – from Hogarth to Private Eye


Tuesday 15th February 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Ian Keable

The first time the word cartoon was used in the sense that we know it today was in 1843 in Punch magazine.  But the employment of satire, caricature, speech bubbles and the writing of captions had been around long before then.  In this talk Ian tracks the early stages of cartoons and how, through the works of Hogarth and James Gillray, they gradually evolved.
Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

Grinling Gibbons – Virtuoso in Wood

Gertrude Bell

Tuesday 18th January 2022 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Nicholas Merchant

Few can hear the words ‘wood carving’ and not think of the genius of Grinling Gibbons who left his spectacular carvings in many British stately homes including nearby Rowley Manor, and the royal  palaces of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. 2021 was the tercentenary off his death, so now is a good time to revel in his ability to make still lives in wood appear real in matchless trompe l’oeil.

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

The Borgias: The Most Infamous Family in History?

Cesare Borgia

Tuesday 16th November 2021 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Sarah Dunant

Murder, poison, corruption and incest: all perfect ingredients for sensational popular culture. But in an age known for its brutality and church corruption were the Borgias really so bad? This lecture reveals the real family that dominated the Papacy and Italian politics during the last decade of the 15th century: the charismatic figure of Pope Alexander VI, living inside his sumptuously decorated apartments, the career of his son, Cesare, cardinal, general, employer of Da Vinci and the model for Machiavelli’s The Prince, and the journey of Lucrezia Borgia from “the greatest whore in Rome” to a devout and treasured duchess of the city Ferrara. Sometimes truth is more intoxicating than myth.

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

Mind the Gap: Designs for the London Underground

London Underground Design

Tuesday 19th October 2021 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Charles Harris

“Mind the Gap” examines the world-beating graphics, designs, maps and posters created for the London Underground. From early days through the inventive inter-war years, this lecture is rammed with well-known artists and great stories. Modern London was shaped by the Underground. Tunnel Vision has never been so celebrated.

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

A Brief Story of Wine

History of Wine

Tuesday 21st September 2021 at 10.45am

Lecturer: David Wright

Wine has been part of our global society for over 7,000 years, and the story tells of its origin and appearance in all societies across the Mediterranean and through Europe. There is rich evidence of the role wine has played in these societies and how it became an important component of faith, well-being and festivity. From the kwevris of Georgia in 5,000 B.C., the symposia in ancient Greece, the thermopolia of Pompeii, the hospices of Europe, to the dining tables of fine society wine has been ever present. Drawings, paintings, engravings, buildings, pottery and wine labels themselves all contribute to the story.

Posted by vivalogue in Past Lectures

Punch Magazine – Halcyon Days

Punch Magazine - the prevailing epidemic

Tuesday 15th June 2021 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Tim Stimson

Mr Punch's reign as premier puncturer of pomposity spanned five monarchs; his blend of cartoons, jokes and satire holding up a mirror to society, with a wry grin, pointing out questionable politicians, unimaginative beaurocrats, rude shop assistants, striking workers, rich foreigners, rising prices and ... the British railways - recognising that to laugh rather than cry is a good tonic.

Punch Magazine described itself as:

"a guffawgraph"

"a refuge for destitute wit"

"an asylum for the thousands of drawings, orphan jokes and perishing puns which otherwise wander about without so much as a shelf to rest on"

Posted by Michael Lacey in Past Lectures