Monthly Talks

All talks £10 inc refreshments (not changed since 2007) Places are limited so book early.

Fridays  11 a.m. & 7.30 p.m.  Tel 01372 272235 or email to book

Programme for 2018

Thursday May 24th (11 a.m. only), Friday 11 a.m. & 7.30 p.m.  
The Flemish Renaissance: Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin & Rogier van der Weyden: 

These three artists were contemporaries of the three Florentine geniuses we looked at last month.  Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin and Rogier van der Weyden developed the use of oil paint, which enabled them to create the detailed rendering we see in their surviving masterpieces. But it was not just a technical development that they were known for. Their work was to revolutionise northern European art because of their detailed observation of people, the world around them and their capturing of emotion.  Rogier van der Weyden's portrait of a lady, right, (in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC) is a masterpiece. Not only is she beautiful and very composed, but it is as if she will relax the minute your back is turned, and if you turn round quick enough you will catch her unpinning her headdress ir scratching her nose.

In the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square we are lucky to have portraits of Jan van Eyck and his wife, and an unknown your girl and an older man that may be Robert Campin and his wife, but the jury is still out on this.

Jacob Burkhardt and Ernst Gombrich referred to the Flemish artists as primitives, but with this level of skill were they right to do so?  I discuss this in an article on my personal website; click on the link  if you fancy a read (I won't be testing you on whether you have or not, but you might find it interesting). However, do you really think you could describe van der Weyden's portrait of this unknown woman as primitive?  

We will look at the lives and the work of these three great artists and see how they influenced others for the next 100 years. 

Michelangelo said of the work of the Flemish artists "....  Italian painting was devout, but would not cause the worshipper to shed a tear, whereas the work of the Flemish painters could move them to shed many."

I look forward to seeing you either on 24th or 25th, either at 11 a.m. or 7.30 p.m. 

01372 272235 or email: to book. Spaces limited.
£10 inc refreshments (same price since 2007).

Friday 29th June: The Art of Sicily.

Details to follow.

Study Days
Saturday: 8th December 2018. Study Day   - West House, Pinner:   Contact to check availability.

Illuminated Manuscripts Fit for a King

Illuminated manuscripts were expensive luxury items. Originally created in religious scriptoria, the first were illuminated religious books.  Soon centres of excellence for illumination and transcribing books other than devotional texts emerged. We are extremely lucky in that our British Library holds a superb collection of illuminated manuscripts that were produced for kings, princes, nobles and those aspiring to the gentry.  Owning an illuminated book was one way of showing your wealth and status.

In this study day we will look at all types of illuminated manuscripts. Many give us a glimpse of the artist, but most are by anonymous painters who go by the soubriquet "The Master of ...".  This particular image (left) is from a book of instruction for a prince written by Henry VII's keeper of the royal library, Quentin Poulet.  Here a knight is introduced to a man without chivalry by Lady Imagination. Clearly the unchivalrous man will always be easily recognised by the space between his elbows and his shoulders!  The artist has included a visual pun on Poulet's name in the margin at the bottom of the page.

Not only who collected these will be examined, but why. Some books came into the royal library because they were the spoils of war; others because they were gifts.  Some were handed down through families and include personal notes in the calendars giving us a close connection with the owner and the world around them.  

The golden age of illumination was from the mid 15th - mid 16th centuries and centred on three workshops, the David, the Horenbout and the Bening. By the 1540s Simon Bening was the last man standing and is considered the last of the great illuminators. We shall be looking at some manuscripts that came from these workshops so you can see for yourselves their beauty and the symbolism contained in both the large pages and also the margins. By the end of the day you will be able to recognise some of the symbols that were more than just pretty decoration and will add to your appreciation of the work of all the illuminators over the centuries.

Contact for availability