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Lectures 2015 Archive

Lectures - quick reference


Thursday 15 January at 10:45  and 14:15
Linda Smith
Power, Propaganda and Men in Tights: English Art under the Tudors

Thursday 19 February at 10:45 and 14:15
Mr Douglas Skeggs
The History of the Medici: Bankrolling the Renaissance

Thursday 19 March at 10:45 and 14:15
Professor Tom Beaumont James
William of Wykeham: Chancellor, Bishop and Builder at
Windsor Castle, Oxford and Winchester
Wednesday 1 April AGM at 10:30   (please note time)
Mr Bertie Pearce
The Art of Illusion
Thursday 16 April at 10:45 and 14:15
Mr John Ericson
Norman Rockwell: Great American Artist or Merely Illustrator?
Thursday 21 May at 10:45 and 14:15
Dr David Bostwick
The Green Man in Art and Myth
Thursday 18 June at 10:45 and 14:15
Mr Christopher Bradley
Libya Uncovered
Thursday 17 September at 10:45 and 14:15
Mrs Valerie Woodgate
The Paintings of Stanley Spencer

Thursday 15 October at 10:45 and 14:15
Miss Jo Walton
Bernini and Baroque Rome

Thursday 19 November at 10:45 and 14:15
Ms Vivien Heffernan
Hogarth: Caricaturist or Character Painter?


                                                     Details of the lectures and lecturers

Thursday 15 January 2015                  POWER, PROPAGANDA AND MEN IN TIGHTS:            Lecturer: Miss Linda Smith
                                                                         ENGLISH ART UNDER THE TUDORS

                Hans Holbein the Younger

Henry VIII by Holbein the Younger

Miss Linda Smith

This lecture looks at English painting during the so called 'Long Sixteenth Century' - the tumultuous reigns of the five Tudor monarchs. 

Significant artistic developments were made during the period, largely by talented immigrants like Hans Holbein and Marcus Gheeraerts.  Important works by these and other artists will be examined, paying particular attention to the enigmatic and elaborate symbolism, both personal and political. 

                        Sir Francis Drake by
                   Marcus Gheerhaerts the Younger

Portraiture dominated the period, and images of the great monarchs and personalities of the age are compared and contrasted in terms of the functions they were intended to fulfil.  Other genres, like religious subjects and the early beginnings of landscape painting, are also featured.

The talk ties the works firmly to their political, social and personal context, and will also address the intriguing issue of why the degree of naturalism used in painting varied widely during the period.

Miss Linda Smith is a well qualified art historian with a broad range of knowledge and a special interest in British art and the art of the 20th Century.

Linda holds two first-class degrees in Art History. She is an experienced guide and lecturer at Tate Britain, Tate Modern and the Dulwich Picture Gallery. She also lectures to secondary school audiences and independent arts societies. 

Marcus Gheerhaerts the Younger

The Ditchley Portrait
Elizabeth I by
Marcus Gheerhaerts the Younger

Elizabeth I by
Marcus Gheerhaerts the Elder

Thursday 19 February 2015                            THE HISTORY OF THE MEDICI:                         Lecturer: Mr Douglas Skeggs
                                                                         BANKROLLING THE RENAISSANCE


The Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena, The Grand Duke Cosimo II, and their elder son, the future Ferdinando II

 We are delighted to welcome Douglas Skeggs back to HEDFAS.  Today he will treat us to a lecture on the turbulent history of the extraordinary Medici family.   They were ruthless in the pursuit of profit for their Florentine bank, greedy for success, merciless to those who opposed them and vicious in their internal squabbles, yet some of the greatest achievements in Italian Renaissance art resulted from their patronage.  The lecture will examine their triumphs and tragedies, the intrigues and plots, the assassination attempts, the years of exile and their perpetual desire to glorify the family name in works of art. Indeed, without their love of art and their almost limitless wealth we might never have seen the works of Donatello, Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Mr Douglas Skeggs read Fine Art at Magdalene College, Cambridge and since 1980 has been a lecturer on Art history and techniques of painting. He is also an Artist, Biographer, Novelist and TV Presenter. He has written six novels and presented numerous TV documentaries, notably the Omnibus programme on Whistler, and the exhibition video on William Morris.

As an artist in his own right he has held one-man exhibitions of his paintings in England and Switzerland. He is a director of the New Academy of Arts.


    Cosimo I the Great, founder of the   
     Grand Duchy of Tuscany


Thursday 19 March 2015                        WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM: CHANCELLOR,                    Lecturer: Professor Tom Beaumont James

                                                                         OXFORD AND WINCHESTER


      William of Wykeham  (1366-1404)


      Professor Tom Beaumont James,
  Professor of Archaeology and History


Servant of three successive monarchs, Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV, William of Wykeham
(c 1324-1404) was one of the most remarkable and able men in the Middle Ages. Born into poverty, his abilities took him to work in Winchester and later for Edward III.  After the great victories of Crecy and Poitiers over the French, Wykeham was involved in the royal castle building enterprise at Windsor, the mighty castle of chivalry.  Later Wykeham rose to be Chancellor England and Bishop of Winchester, the wealthiest diocese north of the Alps.  He used his skills and financial acumen to engage in the most ambitious educational project in the Middle
Ages, as founder of colleges at Winchester, a school, and Oxford, New College, both founded to replace clergy who had been lost in the Black Death.  Wykeham has left a rich legacy of artistic patronage and buildings as well as personal artefacts associated with him. 

This lecture explores the visual aspects of the architecture and material culture he has left for us through to his magnificent chantry chapel in Winchester Cathedral.

Professor Tom Beaumont James MA Phd (St Andrews) FSA FRHistS has long experience of work in archaeology and history.  Starting as a differ in Winchester in the 1960s, he went on to co-direct the extensive excavations in Perth in the 1970s.  Since then he has made a special study of Medieval palaces, especially Clarendon Palace in Wiltshire.  He has undertaken three studies from prehistory the present: of a significant city (Winchester), of a discrete piece of landscape (clarendon) and of England itself.  He has lectured across the world and has made many television and radio broadcasts.  He is an expert on the effects of plague and especially the effects of the Black Death of 1348-50 and successive plagues on England - examining architecture, art, demography, economy and mentality.  He has published and broadcast widely on this.  He has published in BBC History on Mary Seacole, the 19th century nurse, and is owner of the only letter in her handwriting written to his father's great uncle, the artist Albert Challen, who painted the portrait now in the National Portrait Gallery.


On 30 October 1356 Wykeham was made Surveyor of the King's Works at the Castle and in the Park of Windsor

       Chapel of New College, Oxford

Wednesday 1April 2015  at 10:30                   THE ART OF ILLUSION                                       Lecturer: Mr Bertie Pearce

         AGM.at Phyllis Court


The ‘Jongleur’ by Hieronymus Bosch (c.1460-1516)

Bertie Pearce

 '…in which it is the very trickery that pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein.'
Seneca (3BC-65AD)

From the beginning of time the fascination with magic and the impossible has been widespread. Egypt was the cradle of magic. Sorcerer Priests used scientific principles to create illusions for the edification of worship and to hold power over the people. Where there was power there was magic.

Then there is the age-old skill of sleight of hand, which proves that ‘the hand is quicker than the eye’. Magicians were known as ‘Jongleurs’ lest they by sentenced to death for ‘witchcraft and conjuration’ under the edicts of Henry VIII.

With the emergence of the Music Hall, Magic gained a new respectability and audiences flocked in their thousands to watch the extraordinary feats of The Great Illusionists. This gave birth to legendary tricks such as pulling a rabbit from a hat and sawing a lady in half.

And if magicians guarded their secrets with their lives, how was the Magic Circle formed ? – Home to 10,000 secrets.

Even Today in our super technical age of ipods and broadband, the wonder and surprise of magic are as popular as ever, not forgetting the Harry Potter craze.

The Art of Illusion is a whistle stop tour of the history of mystery from 3000BC to the 21st century and be careful! – you might be amazed and bewitched.

Mr Bertie Pearce is a Member of The Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star. Equipped with a BA (Hons) in drama from Manchester University, Bertie went to the Ecole Internationale du Theatre Jaques Lecoq in Paris.

He has performed all over the world. His ‘Soiree Fantastique’ Show at The Magic Circle in 1999 was a sell out and in 2003 he put on 'All Aboard – The Comedy of Cruising' at The Bridewell Theatre which sold out.

In 2008 he performed in ‘A Spoonful of Magic’ at The Polka Theatre in Wimbledon and this was followed by Bertie and Boo’s 'Wonders of the World’ Show which played at the Brighton Festival Fringe.

He is widely sought after for close up magic and cabarets for private parties and fundraisers. In 2003 he was awarded the Carlton Comedy Award by the Magic Circle and twice won the award for Originality from The International Brotherhood of Magicians.



Thursday 16 April 2015                  NORMAN ROCKWELL: GREAT AMERICAN ARTIST             Lecturer: Mr John Ericson

      Norman Rockwell

             Freedom from Want (1943)

His first scouting calendar (1925)


Norman Rockwell: A storyteller with a brush. Norman Rockwell is a celebrated and prolific 20th century American painter and illustrator whose work has probably been seen by a larger audience than any other artist in history.  His works enjoy broad popular appeal in America, where Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of scenes of everyday life he created for the Saturday Evening Post.

The 2011 exhibition of Rockwell's work at the Dulwich Picture Gallery was an unprecedented success.  It was the second most visited exhibition that the gallery had ever mounted, being beaten only by Canaletto.  The popularity of the exhibition surprised nearly everyone, so what is it that makes Rockwell's work so appealing?

To begin with, many of his paintings are technically superb.  Furthermore, they draw us in, telling us poignant stories that invariably make us smile.

Was he a great artist, or a mere illustrator, as his detractors would have us believe?

Whether or not you visited this intriguing exhibition, this lecture will inform, educate and perhaps persuade you of Rockwell's rightful place in the hierarchy of 20th century artists. 

Mr John Ericson was formerly a lecturer at the University of Bath where he was Director of Studies in the School of Education with responsibility for the professional development of teachers. His principal areas of research were course design and the role of pictures in both teaching and learning. He also found time to teach presentation skills to his academic colleagues, a topic close to his heart!

He has worked extensively overseas as an educational consultant and this has given him the opportunity to give lectures and presentations at conferences all over the world. In 2008 and again in 2011, he undertook extensive lecture tours of Australia and New Zealand.

As well as the talks he has developed from his professional background, he offers presentations on an eclectic range of topics that are derived from his diverse interests and enthusiasms such as antique corkscrews, the Shakers of North America and Norman Rockwell.

        Freedom of Speech (1943)

            Freedom of Worship (1943)

Freedom from Fear (1943)

Thursday 21 May 2015                                  THE GREEN MAN IN ART AND MYTH                       Lecturer: Dr David Bostwick



The Green Man is the name given to the human face, carved as a mask disgorging leaves from its mouth. 

Found across Europe, as an ornament in medieval churches and secular buildings, it is a motif derived from the art of the pre-Christian past, and has been interpreted as a pagan nature god.  Dr Bostwick's researches over 20 years have finally unlocked the meaning of this enigmatic mask which, although called The Green Man, has nothing to do with Jack in the Green, Robin Hood or other 'green' characters of folklore and all to do with the Christian message.   

Dr David Bostwick is a lecturer and consultant in the Cultural History of the Medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods. He is also a specialist in medieval imagery and interior furnishings and decoration from1400-1700.  He is a tour leader and former Keeper of the Social History Collections at Sheffield City Museums. He has done lecture tours to the USA and Australia. In addition he is a consultant on historic buildings and their interpretation to the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Scotland.


Thursday 18 June 2015                                              LIBYA UNCOVERED -                                           Lecturer: Mr Chris Bradley
                                             THE MAGNIFICENCE OF LEPTIS MAGNA, SABRATHA AND CYRENE


Chris Bradley


Ancient rock paintings deep in the Sahara Desert show the early artistic skills of semi-nomadic traders 10,000 years ago.  the Phoenicians developed the early trading ports of Sabratha and Leptis Magna, whilst the Greeks built the magnificent city of Cyrene.  But it was under the powerful Roman Empire that Leptis Magna was the greatest city in Africa, when local leader Septimius Severus became emperor.  His huge public buildings are adorned with magnificent carvings, and the private villas of the wealthy show more personal tastes of design and artwork.  Many of these villas have only recently been uncovered, showing that the 3rd century AD was the golden age of the very finest examples of Roman mosaics and art.

During Byzantine control, a unique Berber culture also developed in the mountains, where they created strange architectural homes and granaries.  The arrival of Islam brought new forms of mosaics, Ottoman influenced mosques and ornate houses inside Tripoli's old city.  Ancient trading towns abound, one of which is Ghadames, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its lavishly decorated house interiors.

After graduating as a civil engineer in 1976,
Mr Chris Bradley worked in Saudi Arabia as an engineering consultant and travelled widely around the country. He then spent 10 years working as a tour group leader on a full time basis.

He is an expert in the history and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. As a professional tour guide and lecturer he has led groups throughout the Middle East and Asia. He has written extensively on Arabia and is the author of The Discovery Guide to Yemen, Insight Guide to the Silk Road and Berlitz Guides to Libya; The Red Sea; Cairo; Abu Dhabi and Nile Cruising. As a photographer he has pictures represented by four photographic libraries. He has a broad range of lecturing experience, including to the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Institute of British Architects. As a film producer and cameraman he has made documentaries for the BBC, National Geographic TV and Channel 4.

Roman columns in Sabratha Arch at Leptis Magna

 The Apollo Temple at Cyrene


Thursday 17 September 2015                  THE PAINTINGS OF STANLEY SPENCER             Lecturer: Mrs Valerie Woodgate

    Self Portrait of Stanley Spencer 1914


                Mrs Valerie Woodgate


One of the most original British artists of his generation, Spencer's art was dominated by his personal life and his profound religious faith. 

Cookham, his birthplace, was for him an earthly paradise whose people and surroundings possessed a mystical quality.  This was the setting for many of his great religious works and he spoke of "the rich religious significance of the place I live in."

Despite the failure of his two marriages, he continued to believe in the power of love and some of his most important works were inspired by his feelings for the two women whom he married. 

Travoys Arriving with Wounded
at a Dressing-Station at Smol,
Macedonia, September 1916 (1919)

The paintings inspired by his military service in World War 1, concentrating on hope and redemption rather than on suffering, reveal a similar basic optimism.

This lecture will examine the eccentric and visionary world of one of the most creative and imaginative British painters of the 20th century.

Mrs Valerie Woodgate is a Lecturer and Guide in Tate Britain and Tate Modern, and for Tate on cruises. She is also a Lecturer in other major galleries, including the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and, on religious art, in churches and cathedrals. She is a script-writer for  theLiving Paintings Trust (art for the blind and partially-sighted).

  Self Portrait of Sir Stanley Spencer 1959

          The Centurian's Servant 1914

Thursday 15 October 2015                             BERNINI AND BAROQUE ROME                                   Lecturer: Miss Jo Walton

             Self portrait of Bernini, c.1623


The portraits, fountains and mythological sculptures of GianLorenzo Bernini are some of the most exuberant and joyous sculptures ever made.  Rome is a city of many glories, from distant antiquity onwards, and amongst her remarkable churches, fountains and monuments are the spectacular works of GianLorenzo Bernini.  This complex, driven artist was the friend and confidant of Popes and princes, a child prodigy and a prolific, if understandably arrogant, genius. 

In this lecture we shall find out about his sculpture, paintings, fountains, architecture - even plays - and also discover why such exuberance and magnificence became powerful weapons in a religious and political propaganda war.

Miss Jo Walton has combined teaching and lecturing with a career in art bookselling and has been a volunteer guide at both Tate Britain and Tate Modern. She is now a freelance lecturer for NADFAS, the Art Fund, and Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery and local art societies. She specialises in Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture and in British art of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

         Apollo and Daphne, 1622-25

Thursday 19 November 2015                                               HOGARTH:                                         Lecturer: Mrs Vivien Heffernan

                     William Hogarth,
           The Painter and his Pug (1745)

   The Assembly at Wanstead House.
    Earl Tylney and family in foreground


Hogarth’s wide-ranging subject matter will be explored, including portraits and his ‘modern moral subjects’.  Much of his work, such as Marriage a la Mode, was intended to expose what the artist saw as the pretensions of eighteenth century society.  He communicated the hypocrisy and inevitable downfall of his characters with a delightful wit and barely concealed cynicism, often using caricature. 

However, Hogarth also painted wonderfully sensitive portraits of friends and philanthropists such as Thomas Coram; these will be explored so that we may appreciate Hogarth’s empathy for his sitters as well as his more wicked and critical eye.

Mrs Vivien Heffernan is an art history tutor for the continuing education departments of Essex and Cambridge Universities, colleges and adult education organisations. She is a long-standing lecturer with the Open University on art history courses ranging from the early Renaissance to the 20th century.

Vivien has had wide experience as a freelance lecturer since 1988. She lectured for ADFAS in Australia and NADFAS in New Zealand. She is also a practising artist.

   Self portrait by Hogarth, c 1735
Eva Marie Veigel and husband David Garrick, painted by William Hogarth


Lecture Procedure 
Lectures are planned and booked by Jillie Drucker, with immense attention to detail. Every year Jillie attends the NADFAS Directory Meeting in London where a host of lecturers, established and new, congregate to display their lectures with particular emphasis on those they have prepared over the last few months. Lecturers new to NADFAS deliver a two minute lecture and some established lecturers are invited to speak for one minute on their new lecture.
Society representatives are given the opportunity to meet the lecturers
afterwards and discuss their programme of lectures for the following year. Jillie evaluates the  subject matter, the content and the delivery. In addition lecturers are booked through other societies' recommendation and this plays a large part in Jillie's choice. Every endeavour is made to provide a varied and stimulating year of lectures with wide ranging topics so there is something of interest for all HEDFAS members.
We do hope you will enjoy them, learn from them and, above all, have fun. We would be delighted to hear your views and comments on any aspect so do email us on hedfas@hedfas.org.uk. Perhaps you have a particular subject that you would like to hear more about - please tell us and we shall do our best to source it.

HEDFAS has a wide diversity of members, some with more intellectual leanings than others. Our lectures are specifically aimed to please all tastes. The standard of lectures is consistently high, the subject matter varied and interesting and the delivery excellent. Above all they are for enjoyment and pleasure, and in the true spirit of NADFAS, a morning or afternoon spent with HEDFAS is always fun. 
There are nine lectures a year and these are held on the third Thursday of every month, except July, August and December, at in the Ballroom at Phyllis Court Club, Marlow Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 2HT. The morning lecture starts at 10:45 and is repeated in the afternoon at 14:15. In addition there is a lecture held in the morning only, following the AGM, early in April. The AGM starts at 10:30 and is open to both morning and afternoon members. 
Some members live locally, some come from far and wide. There is plenty of car parking at Phyllis Court, some of it a few minutes' walk from the entrance. Coffee and tea (£1.20) are served before the morning lecture and following the afternoon lecture.
A member may bring a guest at any time, except to the AGM.  Please call the Chairman, Pauline Simmonds on 0118 969 7033, to inform her.  The guest may attend a maximum of four lectures a year and pay a voluntary contribution of £6 per lecture.