The Art of the Portrait (11/2-10/3/20)
  • The Art of the Portrait (11/2-10/3/20)

    A particular alchemy occurs when we look at a portrait. We see a picture not of an object, a place or simply a design; we see a thing like ourselves, another human being. Because the face is the primary non-verbal means by which we interact with other people it is perhaps the most important thing that we ever see. It expresses the emotions we experience: love, hate, desire, friendship, fear. It is the means through which we know other people - and through which other people know us.


    That presence, that feeling of being watched, is a very special quality possessed by portraits and in the hands of a skilled artist there are veils of subtlety which overlay the connection between the subject and the viewer. It is, of course, a three-way connection. In creating the portrait the artist, himself or herself, will introduce their own set of ideas either explicitly or implicitly, deliberately or unconsciously. It is why looking at portraits has a special fascination.


    The Art of the Portrait is a series of lectures which examines how artists have captured and recorded portraits from ancient to modern times. Each lecture will survey a different aspect of portraiture to explore how those interactions function, the conditions of patronage, technique and symbols which are involved, from the high and mighty to the lowly and commonplace.


    Tuesday 11/2/20 Long to Reign Over Us: Portraits of British Monarchy

    Before the modern era it was through portraits that most people would have known the identity of themonarch. The defining images of some of our most famous kings and queens have been the result ofparticularly fruitful patronage of court artists. This will review centuries of royal portraits, fromarbitrary likenesses in medieval times to more intimate portraits of modern royals.


    18/2 For Richer, For Poorer…: Portraits of Wealth and Everyman

    Often the act of commissioning a portrait was itself a statement of wealth and prestige. This lecturewill examine how artists have responded to the challenge of representing affluence and privilege and,in so doing, created some of the most sumptuous and ravishing portraits of all time. By contrast, otherportraits feature ordinary men and women, and we will examine the ways in which less wealthy orprestigious subjects have been immortalised.


    25/2 Dynastic to Doting: Portraits of Children

    From statements of power to the expressions of proud parents, there are many circumstances by whicha portrait of a child is created. Rarely commissioned by the sitter, these portraits contain an unusualdynamic between the patron and sitter. This lecture examines these motives and explores the richhistory of children in art.


    3/3 The Self-Portrait

    Of all the subjects an artist can choose as a subject the one most readily available is his or her ownlikeness. A self-portrait can be the result of penetrating self-scrutiny or as much a piece of self-fashioning as any invented fiction. Some artists have charted the passage of time through constantlyrecording their own features. This lecture charts the role of the self-portrait through many centuriesand styles through to modern re-interpretations of a classic genre.


    10/3 The Modern Portrait

    After more than a century of conceptual art what is the status of portraiture in the context of modern and contemporary art?  This will look at how new approaches and new techniques have changed some conventions on portraiture and added to the diversity of portraiture in art.

    Tuesdays 13.30-14.30

    Strawberry Hill House

    The Square Education Room

    268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST


    £12 per lecture (Please book the number of tickets you would like to buy, and specify the dates separatedly)


     delivered by Alan Read 


    The Square Education Room is separate from the main historic house so please enter via the lawns and under the iron staircase.  Signage will be put up and ‘front of house’ staff will be able to direct you to the right place.


    NB The award winning Café occupies the ambient Great Cloister of Strawberry Hill House and enjoys glorious views across Horace Walpole’s 18th century naturalistic garden. The fresh menu is seasonal and delicious, where all ingredients are carefully chosen and they cater for all dietary needs. From tantalising lunches freshly prepared in their kitchen to their tempting home-baked cakes and cookies. So you might want to come a bit earlier and enjoy your lunch at the house!

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