Zooming into Autumn 2022
Classes will run on a Monday afternoon at 3.00pm (London time) for 1 ½ hours. Please be in the waiting room at least five minutes before the class starts so that you are ready to be admitted into the virtual class room.
The next block of classes will begin on Monday 3rd October and conclude on 28 November
I am currently planning for 2 one off Christmas classes at the beginning of December.
Classes can be booked as individual sessions or as a discounted block of 7. Presentations will be recorded and can be viewed for a limited time after the live session (subject to the technology.)
Painting History – artists who coloured our views and where next
Historical accuracy or inaccuracy- in movies is something that we are all aware of. Queen Anne did not keep bunnies in her bedroom and Elizabeth I did not settle down for a cousinly chat with her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. But fake history is nothing new. The nineteenth century saw history popularised by Sir Walter Scott with the publication of the Waverley novels. Artists such as Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) created images which were semi-historical and semi–romantic. In 1975 the National Gallery put The Execution of Lady Jane Grey on public display for the first time since 1920. Today it remains one of the most popular paintings in the gallery and our views of Lady Jane Grey and, indeed, the Princes in the Tower are coloured by his works and by artists like his who chose historical subjects – elements of which may be well researched but which have an agenda of their own.
Attitudes change with the passage of time, the Victorians were concerned with innocence, goodness, and morality- we look at artwork and sculpture differently. In January 2022 four people accused of illegally moving the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol were cleared of criminal damage. Petitions stretching back thirty years were amongst the evidence presented at court – all of them reflecting on the horrors of the triangular trade, slavery and Colston’s role in it. The statue has been moved to a museum preserved in its current state and the broader history of Bristol’s role in the slave trade is to be given context and explored. It raises important questions about our perceptions of public art and the way our understanding of history changes with the passage of time – in terms of archeological record, new facts being discovered, different voices being heard and bias shifting.
Each week we will explore a different picture, the context in which it was painted, what we know from the historical record and then explore the mythologising behind the image as well as its impact on our own understanding of the person or events depicted. We will consider how each generation interprets history and the way that our understanding of the past changes accordingly.
Lipscomb, Suzannah., Carr, Helen, (eds.), What Is History, Now?, (London: Orion, 2021)
Week 1: Monday 3rd October
This week we will explore the historical artist Paul Delaroche , his fall from critical favour and his interpretation of the death of Lady Jane Grey and its impact on our understanding of the nine days queen and the cousin who executed her. We will consider the contemporary historical sources which he drew on and the way that he has used artistic licence for greater impact.
Week 2: Monday 10th October 2022. The Princes in the Tower
We will start with Paul Delaroche’s depiction of the prince’s in the Tower. He painted this artwork less than forty years after the executions of the French Royal family during the French Revolution. From there we will look at other artworks of the period depicting the Edward V and his brother Richard Duke of York including Millais and James Northcote, amongst others, who depicts the children on the verge of being smothered. We will consider the available contemporary evidence and the impact of the images on popular imagination . We will also consider, briefly, the evidence that the Princes did not die in the Tower.
Week 3: Monday 17th October: The French Revolution
The French Revolution in five paintings including David’s Death of Marat. The paintings will come from different periods and be of different styles giving us an opportunity to consider reportage, narrative and the politics of art – art as national propaganda.
Monday 24 October – Half term
Week 4: Monday 7th November: The death of Nelson
More idealisation! We will also explore the work of Daniel Maclise in the Palace of Westminster and other depictions of the death of Nelson. We will counterpoint the image above with Turner’s Fighting Temeraire which marked a change in the narrative.
Week 5: Monday 14 November: A quick view of American history
Washington Crossing the Delaware is an iconic historical painting but America was inhabited before settlers from the Old World arrived. The Metropolitan Museum of Art considers many of its artworks from native perspectives (https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/collection-areas/the-american-wing/native-perspectives). This sessions will explore the facts surrounding this event depicted, the historical inaccuracies of the depiction and the way in which Emanuel Leutze creates a hero. We will progress to look at some more iconic imagery associated with the United States of America to consider how our views of the past are shaped by our social and cultural identity and the ways in which different people see at differently.
Week 6: Monday 21 November: Setting the record straight…or not as the case may be! From early times to the Middle Ages- some snap shots.
Vikings did not have horns or wings on their helmets! A gallop through history from the Vikings onwards looking at historical fact and historical fiction. What can you spot? We’ll consider the story of Lady Godiva using James Collier’s famous painting as a jumping off point to look at the evolution of Godiva’s story from the Middle Ages onwards. We will conclude by discussing whether artists, writers and film makers have a responsibility to history to be factually accurate.
Week 7: Monday 28th November- Setting the record straight…or not as the case may be! From the Tudors to modern times – some snap shots.
We will conclude our foray into the subjective realm of historical discourse. Pictorial history is a powerful tool -whether depicting an actual event or real person or providing an image of an imagined historical past. Think of the image entitled ‘When did you last see your father’ which is a fictional event but which sets a tone for our interpretations of history. History shapes our national identity and the way we view the past. Artists, writers, film makers and sculptors use historical topics to serve the needs of the society in which they live. So what is history now? We will consider the 60th anniversary edition of What is History? considering how we interpret history to day, the stories that are told and by whom as well as considering the ways in which we choose to re-write history today.
single sesssions of Painting History – artists who coloured our views and where next
Online Zoom class – single session. Registration with Zoom is not automated. Please allow 24 hours for receipt of Zoom link or registration of pre-existing clients.
7 sessions Painting History – artists who coloured our views and where next
Online Zoom class – seven sessions. Please allow 24 hours for receipt of Zoom link. Be aware that your Zoom registration will show 8 sessions as the half term week is included in the calendar.