The next Special Interest Day is on 12 Nov 2019

Venice. The Most Serene Republic: Art Books & Convents

Tuesday November 12th: 10.30 am – 3.0 pm, coffee served from 10.0 am.

Lecturer: Patricia Erskine-Hill

This Day of Special Interest explores Venice’s beginnings, her unique form of government, her artistic legacy, and her commercial and cultural influence, as well the peculiar distortion of Venetian society caused by gentry marriage practices.

The day begins with a talk on the early settlement of La Serenissima, this extraordinary city built on water. We then look at the Venetian School of painting, based on ‘colorito’, as opposed to ‘dise10’- colour versus drawing; think of Titian, Bellini, Giorgione and others. The republican ideals of Venice are explored, and the city’s distrust of hereditary government, ending with a look at attempts to keep Venice safe from rising seas that threaten to engulf her.

The second session is devoted to Venice, the geatest producer and seller of books in the world for one hundred years. Why was Venice so successful, where did she get her raw materials, how and where did she sell her vast output between 1450 and 1550? Book production covered a huge range, with books in many languages and content ranging from the scurrilous to the pious, but also music publishing and book illustration. You will see some examples of these beautiful books, many still in mint condition today because of the materials and techniques used.

Our final talk is on Venetian social mores, as we explore the way inter-clan marriages were arranged for a chosen minority of family offspring, with surplus females forced into convents, often against their will, and kept there for life. This practice was strengthened by the complicity of the church, and the resulting distorted balance of the sexes at gentry level gave rise to a shocking increase in the number of courtesans, so much so that Venice became a byword for lax morals and temptation for young men on the Grand Tour. Not until the Napoleonic invasion of 1797 was this custom finally discontinued.

Patricia Erskine-Hill was born in the US and educated in several different European countries, finishing with a first-class honours degree from Trinity College, Dublin, and a Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh She has worked in many fields: interpreting, translation, advertising and travel, finally teaching Italian Renaissance and Mediaeval literature at Baylor University in Texas for five years. She speaks French, Italian and Spanish and lectures worldwide to Universities, arts groups and on cruises. Her main areas of interest are Imperial Russia, the English eighteenth century and Venice.

Future Special Interest Days

April 7 2020 mid eighteenth century Rococo Silver.

Lecturer Ralph Hoyle

This will be an entertaining and informative talk. He brings with him pieces he is going to talk about which can be handled and examined by the audience.  He will take us on a journey to uncover the original owners and some of the life stories associated with then.  Silversmithing techniques, methods of manufacture and interpreting the engraved heraldry of the items will all be covered.

November 10 2020 The Golden Age of English and European Furniture

Lecturer Janusz Karczewski-Stowikowski

The day will focus on English and European furniture of the period 1660 to 1760 and will be divided into three sessions. Firstly from joiner to cabinet making, secondly East meets West from Baroque to Rococo and finally Georgian furniture.

The last Special Interest Day on 9 Apr 2019

The Honourable East India Company & East-West Trade: Chintz, Chinese Export and Chinoiserie, 1600 – 1800

Lecturer: Viv Lawes M.A., B.A.Hons

Previous Special Interest Days in 2015 – 2018

 The Nude   by Lydia Bauman

Medieval Life in Art and Illumination by Kenneth Parker

Royal Progresses of the Tudor and Stuart Monarchs 1485 -1714 by Roger Mitchell

How to look after your Antique Furniture by Christopher Chanter

Art for the Modern Age; Painting in nineteenth-century France by Dr Lois Oliver.

Mozart:  the  Operatic Genius by Peter Medhurst

The Glories of English Watercolours by Ann Clements