Category Archives: Previous Study Days

British Baroque

British Baroque – 13th October 2023

The Day of Special Interest was presented by Dr Amy Lim, Curator, Faringdon Collection.

The study day started by looking at “The Baroque Country House”. Many of Britain’s best-loved country houses were created in the ‘Baroque’ period (c. 1660-1720).  Dr. Lim discussed some of the most iconic houses of the period, (including Chatsworth, Petworth, and Blenheim) and the patrons who created them, and look at some of the highlights of their sumptuous interiors, gardens and collections, addressing the question: What is ‘Baroque’?

In her second lecture, “Queens, consorts and courtiers”, Dr Lim discussed female art patrons in Baroque Britain.  What was the role of women in British Baroque art?  In an era when married women’s property automatically belonged to their husbands, could women still be patrons?  Dr. Lim looked at some of the most important works of art and architecture commissioned by women and consider how they used art to carve out their position in society.

After lunch, her third lecture “Objects in focus” looked at some of the finest artworks of the British Baroque.  For example: Rubens’ ceiling paintings for the Banqueting House, Whitehall, a set of magnificent tapestries commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire for Chatsworth, and Godfrey Kneller’s Hampton Court Beauties.

“1000 Years of Coronations” – March 2023

“1000 Years of Coronations” – March 2023

The Day of Special Interest held on Friday 31 March 2023 had three lectures on “1000 Years of Coronations”.  It was held at The Warwickshire Country Club, Leek Wootton, CV35 8BT, and the presenter was Barbara Askew who is a historian and Blue Badge guide.

Richard II July 1377 – Wikipedia, image in public domain

During this Study Day, Barbara talked about the evolution of the Coronation ceremony from Saxon times up to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.  She described the stages of the coronation from the Proclamation through to the Homage and gave an account of the fascinating incidents, ill omens and memorable mishaps that have occurred at coronations over a thousand years.  The different items of Coronation Regalia were described with an explanation of their history, ceremonial significance and liturgical symbolism.  There was then an entertaining insight into the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2nd 1953, the first to be witnessed by the people by the new medium of television.

It was an extremely informative day with a lot of relevance for the Coronation of King Charles III

Susan Dunnett
Days of Special Interest co-ordinator

Medicine and Art Study Day – March 2022

Plague doctor

A watercolour of an early 17th-century plague doctor’s costume.
(Wellcome Trust/Used under Creative Commons licence)

Medicine and Art

The Day of Special Interest held on the 25th March 2022 at The Warwickshire Country Club, Leek Wootton, Warwick was entitled “Medicine and Art”.

Dr James Grant MBE, a retired General Practitioner, gave members two lectures in the morning: the first on “Medical Gold” from Ancient Egypt to The Nobel Prize and the second on “The Art of Pandemics”:  In contrast to the altarpieces and the secular paintings of the plague and previous epidemics the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an outpouring of remarkable street art. Artists have depicted the effects of disease, the basic human need to blame someone or something for their suffering as well as producing wonderful images which have inspired great hope and consolation. Saint Sebastian to the rescue!

In the afternoon, there was a complete contrast! A prize quiz based on Dr. Grant’s collection of medical instruments and artifacts.  What is it and what would it be valued at? Absolutely fascinating but no-one managed to get all the correct answers!

The lectures and the quiz were informative and fun.  Dr. Grant was very clear and entertaining in his presentations.

Pre-Raphaelite Painters – October 2021

In October 2021 we had three lectures on Pre-Raphaelite painters.   

The presenter was  Mr. Julian Halsby, MA RBA FRSA.  Julian studied History of Art at Emmanuel College Cambridge and had a career in lecturing and writing, working as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department.  

The Lady of Shalott
The Lady of Shalott,1888
John William Waterhouse

The Pre-Raphaelites were young, revolutionary artists who defied the traditions of the Royal Academy and produced highly original and innovative works from 1848 until the 1880’s.

The study day looked at the origins of the movement and the battles for recognition from 1848 to 1860, moving on to examine the wonderful Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, amongst the finest landscapes of the 19th century. The young Pre-Raphaelites were also social rebels rejecting Victorian morality and associating with girls whom their parents considered to be below their social standing.  The day continued by examining the loves and scandals surrounding these artists. Julian then looked at the later Pre-Raphaelites and their influence in Europe, as well as examining Pre-Raphaelite design led by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones which became the famous Arts and Crafts Movement.

It was a very enjoyable day with an enthusiastic audience.

Susan Dunnett

Special Interest Day – Making Art from Destruction: The Cultural History of War and Heroism – November 2019

Making Art from Destruction: The Cultural History of War and Heroism – November 2019

Image supplied by the speaker

Image supplied by the speaker

On Friday 1st November 2019, Dr. Max Jones, Senior lecturer in modern history at the University of Manchester, delivered a fascinating day’s lecture.

He explored the changing ways that artists have interpreted war and heroism over the last three centuries.

Attention focused on commanders through the eighteen and nineteenth centuries – as sculptors and painters raised hosts of Admirals and Generals onto pedestals.

He explored how artists developed new strategies to represent loss and honour the dead of the war.

Max was very entertaining and fun.

Roz Crampton

Special Interest Day – How to Look at Paintings – March 2019

How to look at paintings – March 2019
Image supplied by the speaker

On Friday 15th March 2019, we hosted a Day of Special Interest at The Warwickshire Golf & Country Club, Leek Wootton, near Warwick CV35 7QT.

The speaker was Stella Grace Lyons and the subject, “How to Look at Paintings: Unlocking hidden meanings in Art”.

The lecture was an excellent introduction on how to look at art.  Stella delivered the whole day with enthusiasm and fun.

Roz Crampton

Image supplied by the speaker

Special Interest Day – Chatsworth House – October 2018

Chatsworth House – October 2018
Chatsworth House
On Friday 12th October 2018, we hosted a Day of Special Interest at The Warwickshire Golf & Country Club, Leek Wootton, near Warwick CV35 7QT.

The speaker was Simon Seligman who has spent almost thirty years working in the arts, heritage, tourism and communication.

The subject was Chatsworth House, an historical overview of the evolution of the House and collections, and the garden. After lunch, a focus on the life and times of Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest and last surviving of the six Mitford sisters, who were prominent members of English society in the 1930s and 1940s.

Roz Crampton

Image out of copyright. Taken from Morris, F. O.: “Picturesque Views of Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland” (1870)

Biennial Dinner – June 2018

Biennial Dinner – June 2018
Walton Hall
On Wednesday 13th June 2018, we held a combined Golden Jubilee of The Arts Society and Silver Anniversary of The Arts Society Royal Leamington Spa in the Moncrieffe Room at Walton Hall. Tickets were £50 per head and we sold 69 of a contracted 70.

The evening was a great success and the highlights of the occasion were a speech from our founder Chairman, Mrs Catherine Leahy, and a superb talk from Lady Hamilton, whose husband had once owned Walton Hall.

Image by Bs0u10e01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons