Past Lectures

Stamford Raffles, Art Collector and Discoverer of Singapore


Tuesday 21st May 2024 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Denise Heywood

Raffles, whose name is synonymous with a luxury hotel rather than the greatest Buddhist temple in the world, was a scholar, polymath and the enlightened colonial administrator of Java. In 1804 he discovered the C8th temple of Borobudur, hidden under volcanic ash. He founded Singapore and also acquired wondrous artefacts in Java, such as shadow puppets and textiles, now in the British Museum.

Alma Tad. of the Royal Acad.

Medieval revelry

Tuesday 16th April 2024 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Tim Stimson replaces Louise Schofield who is indisposed.

The lecture title is from the song celebrating this cheery Dutchman’s knighthood during Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. It conveys the widespread affection with which he was regarded by his public, and the riches he enjoyed through the popularity of his accurate and amusing recreations of Roman life. His pictures were once criticised as “Victorians in togas”, yet that is their charm now; and the parallels between the Roman and the British empires are entertainingly apt. The partially disguised eroticism, of course, did no harm to the sales of his sumptuous evocations of delightful decadence.

London Bridged – 3,500 Years of Crossing the Thames

Tuesday 19th March 2024 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Charlie Forman

People were bridging the Thames in the Bronze Age - 1,500 years before the Romans built London Bridge. The last 200 years have seen over 50 new crossings over and under the river. Some are great feats of engineering, some are architecturally elegant. Every crossover changes the city’s genetic code.

Rosa Bonheur, Animal Painter Extraordinaire

The Horse Fair

Tuesday 20th February 2024 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Lois Oliver

French painter Rosa Bonheur had an extraordinary gift for painting animals that brought her international fame and recognition and in 1865 she was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, Defying convention, Bonheur obtained official permission to wear men’s clothing, so that she could study animal anatomy in the male-only spaces of livestock sales. Her painting ‘The Horse Fair’ was so famous that Queen Victoria requested a private viewing at Buckingham Palace.

Charles I: King & Collector

Money Painting

Tuesday 16th January 2024 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Barbara Askew

Charles I’s obsession for collecting art began when he saw the magnificent collection of Spain’s King Philip IV. He then purchased the fabulous collection of the Dukes of Mantua including works by Titian and Raphael; he engaged Rubens to paint the ceiling of the Banqueting House in Whitehall and he appointed Van Dyck as his Court Artist. Overall, he amassed over 2000 works, thereby bankrupting the nation.

A Bit of a Carry On


Tuesday 21st November 2023 at 10.45 am

Lecturer: Tyler Butterworth

This is the untold story of ‘Carry On’ actor Peter
Butterworth and his wife Janet Brown, best
known for her impressions of Mrs Thatcher.
Using classic film and TV clips, personal mementos,
and rare photographs and letters from his family’s
collection, Tyler reveals the private story behind
his parents’ public lives
It’s a journey that includes the building of a
theatre in the notorious WW2 Prisoner of War
camp Stalag Luft III, nights at Chequers with a
Prime Minister, This Is Your Life, and many more
moments in their long, shared life in the theatre.

Venice – Warts and All


Tuesday 17th October 2023 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Nirvan Romell

The talk explores the causative connection
between the political, social and economical
history of this famous city and its arts. The
uniqueness of the city’s history and people are
reflected in the revolutionary and innovative
character of Venetian arts – both in positive
and negative ways. The lecture highlights, in
particular, the contribution that the Venetian
colonies made to the famous school of art.
Venice has been highly romanticised in the past
two centuries and the lecture tries to separate
facts from sentiment.

Bringing India to Britain: Queen Victoria’s Indian Portraits

Restoration Theatre

Tuesday 19th September 2023 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Helen Rufus-Ward

This lecture will focus on Victorian encounters with India and will begin by focusing on the Indian portraits decorating the corridors of Queen Victoria’s favourite palace, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Austrian artist Rudolf Swoboda was commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint authentic portraits of her Indian subjects to represent ‘various types of the different nationalities’ of India. Swoboda produced some extraordinary paintings during his two visits to India and the Queen was thrilled, calling them her ‘Beautiful Things!’ If Queen Victoria couldn’t travel to India – India had to come to her!

Seafaring: Art & Life at Sea from Turner to Today

Punch Magazine - the prevailing epidemic

Tuesday 18th July 2023 at 10.45am


Lecturer: James Russell

From trawlermen to submariners, migrants to merchant seamen, people across the ages have shared the experience of being at sea. This invigorating lecture explores the perils and pleasures of life at sea, while at the same time taking audiences on an art historical voyage from the age of JMW Turner to the present. Along the way we relax aboard an ocean liner, explore the interior of a wartime submarine and meet everyone from 19th century British emigrants to trawlermen and shipwrecked sailors. Expect moments of drama, a few laughs, and many stunning depictions of the sea itself.

Tutankhamun & The Splendours of Ancient Egypt

Caravaggio painting

Tuesday 20th June 2023 at 10.45am

Lecturer: Christopher Bradley

Fifty years ago, many of us were captivated by the 1972 exhibition of Tutankhamun’s Treasures at the British Museum. 2022 is the centenary of the discovery of those treasures by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon and 2023 will celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the tomb for the first time in 3,000 years.The darkness revealed vast riches from antiquity which amongst other influences, spear-headed the design iconography of the emerging art deco movement, lifting the depressed spirits of the inter-war years. Tut-mania affected everything from jewellery and fashion, to architecture and design.