Walton and Hersham

Decorative & Fine Arts Society


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Walton and Hersham


Programme for 2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010, 7.00pm for 7.30pm
Festive Supper followed by
Elizabeth Gordon on Vivaldi and Canaletto

(booking opens at October meeting)

ANTONIO VIVALDI (1678-1741) spent most of his life writing bubbling concertos for a girls' orphanage in Venice. He also wrote over 50 operas and oratorios, many of which are only being rediscovered in the present day. He lived in Venice at a time when opera was all the rage, and the city boasted no fewer than seven opera houses. However, the writing was on the wall for the Most Serene Republic of Venice (`La Serenissima') She had lost all her overseas dominions, and trade with the East had virtually firJled out. However, there was no shortage of visitors to Venice, and it was top of the list of priorities for the Grand Tourist.

Canelleto Westminster Bridge 1746ANTONIO CANALETTO (1697-1768) was a mere nineteen years younger than Vivaldi, and spent his career painting topographical views of his native city for the delectation of the tourists who wished to have a personal record of Venice to take back home. Many of his clients were of the Fnglish aristocracy, some of whom had never set eyes on St Mark's Basilica or the Doge's Palace, but who nonetheless prized the clarity, precision and detail of his paintings. In this lecture dual projection enables us to see his paintings in close-up detail.
In my view, Vivaldi and Canaletto are pretty good bedfellows.

Music Schedule

1.      Vivaldi Violin Concerto in D major 3rd movement RV 234 'L'Inquietudine' Viktoria Mullova. Il Giardino Armonico. Amadeus 2004
2.      Vivaldi The Four Seasons 2nd movt. Largo. (Winter) (II Cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Invenzione). 1725 Philips 438-344-2 I Musici. Felix Ayo. 1990.
3.      Vivaldi. Aria: 'Siamo Navi all'Onde algenti' (Aminta's aria from L'Olimpiade). Decca 466-569-2. The Vivaldi Album, 1999. Cecilia Bartoli. II Giardino Armonico.
4.      Vivaldi Flute Sonata in D, op 10 no. 3 'Il Cardellino' First movt. Archiv 423-70202 (Polydor) Lisa Beznosiuk. English Concert, cond. Trevor Pinnock. 1988.
5.      Alessandro Marcello Oboe Concerto in D minor op 9 no. 2. Adagio Philips 420-189-2. Heinz Holliger. I Musici. 1986.


Elizabeth Gordon is both art historian and musician. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and in Paris before teaching at Sherborne School for Girls. She then went to live in Italy, where she stayed for 17 fabulous years, studying and teaching.

Since returning to London she has lectured for London University (Extra Mural), for the National Gallery and the V & A. She has lectured on art and music tours for Serenissima, NADFAS, Martin Randall, and on cruises for Swan Hellenic, Noble Caledonia etc. In the USA she is a frequent visitor, lecturing at all the major art museums, most frequently for the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has also toured Australia and South Africa .

Her hobby is singing, and for many years she sang in the Bach Choir. She is currently an extra with the London Symphony Chorus.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010, Kelsall
Pearls before Swine - The Story of a Royal Necklace
(booking opens at March meeting)

The day covers the natural origin of pearls, and their care and they have been used for human adornment since prehistoric times because they can be used as found, by pearl fishers, with no further cutting or polishing. They were a  great rarity until 1893, when Kokichi Mikimoto worked out how to produce cultured pearls. Black pearl

The wedding gift of Pope Clement VII, Guilio de'Medici, to his niece Caterina, when she married Henri, second son of Francois I, King of France. Description of the collection : six long ropes of pearls, 80 fine large ones, 7 really big matched pearls and 25 pear-shaped drop pearls. (There were also other rubies, diamonds and emeralds which had to be returned after the Pope died as they were not his to give away).

Catherine's rise in status when, after the death of father and dauphin, Henri became King of France, and she became queen. The failure to produce an heir for 10 years. Henri's sexual problems, due to birth defects. (I will deal with this without giving offence - it is a bit toe-curling for the men to hear about, but it is very interesting and I find that audience's like to KNOW why there were no children for 10 years, and then 7 born in 11 years, after good advice). ldren for 10 years, and then 7 born in 11 years, after good advice).

Mary Queen of Scots' marriage to the firstborn son, Francois II when Catherine gave most of the pearls to her much-loved (at the time) daughter-in-law, for a wedding present. Mary's return to ScotlMary's life in Scotland, and her deposition after the death of Darnley and the Bothwell scandal. The robbery of the pearls from her by her half-brother the Earl of Moray, when regent of Scotland, and the sale of the pearls to Queen Elizabeth of England. Elizabeth wears THE LOT (remember those late paintings of her, festooned with pearls?). Catherine, Dowager Queen of France, was furious.

James VI of Scotland and I of England: his eventual inheritance of the pearls. Most given to his queen, Anna of Denmark, who used to pawn them when broke. (He was mean and she was a spendthrift). Some account of their foibles. Their gift of them to their daughter Elizabeth when she married Prince Frederick, Count of the Palatinate. Location of his domain and his character and importance as an Elector. ate. Location of his domain and his character and importance as an Elector.

Elizabeth's happy marriage, which produced 13 children - and unhappy political fortune as The Winter Queen. Her long widowhood in penury, with the pearls being constantly pawned for food and firewood. Her interesting, clever children and the unmarried dowry-less daughters.

The youngest daughter Sophia's determination to find a husband. Eventual happy alliance to a humble Protestant prince who turned out to be the sharpest fellow in the political game. His rise via bishopric and clever manoeuvring, to become The Elector of Hanover, with Sophia helping all the way. Marriage of their eldest son to his cousin (bad move) and Sophia's nomination as next Queen of England when it became clear that poor Queen Anne would produce no living heir. Act of Settlement passed in England in 1701. Sophia was 71 and Anne 37. They died within months - Sophia first - The tragic marriage of George I and his wife "The Prisoner of Arlden" divorced and imprisoned by her husband for 32 years. She never saw her son George and daughter Sophia again. And she never got the pearls.

George I and his attitude to England. Failure to speak English and rejection of culture. His son's difficult life, when young, and his courtship of Caroline of Ansbach, a poor orphan - but a beautiful blonde. Lovely Caroline's success as Queen of England. Voltaire called her "the great encourager." A great patron of the arts. And she got the pearls - only after her miserable father-in-law died.

George III and Queen Charlotte, who got the pearls. Charlotte's worry about her licentious sons giving royal jewels to trollops, after her death. Her engraving of the jewel boxes with unwise and dubious provenance, as "property of the King of Hanover." ise and dubious provenance, as "property of the King of Hanover."

Inheritance by George IV (Caroline of Brunswick never got the pearls). Inheritance by William IV and poor little Queen Adelaide's inability to produce an heir, only two dead babies. She passed on the pearls to her beloved niece Victoria, who had little else to wear, as she was a poor Princess. Victoria loved her pearls.

Unable to inherit the throne of Hanover (due to Guelph law), Victoria's uncle Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, became King of Hanover. Some information about him, and why he really did not deserve his bad reputation. However, he knew about his mother's engraving on the jewel boxes, and claimed all the jewels, including the pearls, for Hanover. Albert and Victoria's rage: a 14‑ year court case began about the fate of the pearls. (I don't dwell on the blow-by-blow legal issues as they are deeply boring. I know that they are boring as I read all the papers). The judgement of Solomon: half the jewels were to be kept in England and the other half were to go to Hanover. The English royal family were furious, but impotent.

The King of Hanover, Ernest, never got them himself, as he had died by the time the case was settled. So his blind son got them - and his wife Marie loved t Back in England, Victoria then got buckets of pearls from India, along with the Koh-I-noor diamond, rubies and emeralds and sapphires galore, after the treasury of Lahore was opened when the Punjab was conquered. But she never forgot the loss of The Hanover Pearls, as they were now called.

Her daughter-in-law Alexandra's inheritance of all the jewels and her attempts to list what was royal, and what was personal, after Edward VII left "everything" to her. She realised that this was incorrect. I left "everything" to her. She realised that this was incorrect.

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) - The Girl With The Pearl Earring (1665)Her daughter-in-law Mary's illegal disposal of the list and colossal jewel-hoarding. Her dreadful behaviour to her Romanov relations, after the BolshevElizabeth of Glamis behaved perfectly, of course, and she and George VI gave the big Hanover Pearls to their daughter Elizabeth on her wedding day in 1947. Panic to find them on wedding morning.

A look at the Hanover Pearls today: their identification in the state crown - the pear-shaped drop pearls. The double row of big pearls, non graduated, and the Queen's wearing of them on special occasions. She wore them at all the weddings of her children, but not at Charles and Camilla's wedding. Picture of Queen wearing her favourite 3-row graduated pearls, which she did wear for the wedding. Speculation about the reason for this (not being rude to our Queen or her family). Credit to our Queen when she paid compensation to Romanovs after she learned what Queen Mary had done. e pA look at the Queen's jewels, and a little about their history, especially The Teck Emeralds.(Queen Mary behaving badly, again). Where did the Hanover pearls go, the ones that went to Hanover? Did Anthony Blunt retrieve them, after the War? Papers relating to this...it is all very interesting. We will speculate.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Laura de Beden
Landscape and Garden Design History Through the Ages
(booking opens at July meeting)Bowood Grotto

This inspirational study day will consider landscape and garden design as an art form, beautiful and fragile, used by men to test their minds and express their souls through time and diverse ages. It is a special day for both lovers of the arts and keen gardeners, as it encourages a renewed ability to see beauty, enjoying the aesthetics of gardens while deepening our cultural understanding of them.

Among other examples, the focus will be on the Greek and Roman perception of space, epitomised in the genius loci, or capturing the spirit of a place; moving on to the breadth of intellectual power and aesthetic achievements reached by the Renaissance: exploring the mystical proportions that create spatial harmony, the concept of borrowed landscape, and the idea of the secret garden, il giardino segreto which offered a refuge to the often overwhelming grandeur of the whole. The journey through time will focus on the English Landscape School in the 18th century, then consider the arts and crafts movement at the threshold of the 20th century, and finally conclude with a panorama of the most influential gardening figures of the 20th century and their fascinating work and legacy.

The aim of this day is to look with thoroughly modem eyes at the relevance that masterpieces of the past have today, for us to draw inspiration, acquire enlightening material, and approach gardens as catalysts of transformative experiences.

Dr Laura de Beden DipLA ML1