Lectures

This lecture examines David d'Angers's monumental commissions of the 1820s and 1830s in relation to the Bourbon Restoration, the July Monarchy, and the politics of public memory. It also will consider the sculptor's relationship to the period's architects and their collaborative work on the transformation of urban space in Paris.
 

Dutch genre paintings of the seventeenth century show individuals in domestic settings going about their daily activities, such as letter writing, eating and drinking, or making music. Many of these seemingly straightforward scenes, however, contain moral lessons that are difficult for us to decipher today.

Noted art critic and historian Hans den Hartog Jager interviewed Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, known for her remarkable oeuvre of large-scale portraits, which were featured in a retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum last year. The artist discussed the relationship of contemporary photography and her own work to paintings by such artists as Rembrandt and Vermeer. 

―This program was made possible through the generous support of the Drue Heinz Trust.
 

The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis combines a truly great collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings with the spectacular setting of a seventeenth-century city palace in the historic center of The Hague. This lecture traces the history of the Mauritshuis's collection and the building that houses it, and offers a behind-the-scenes view of the current renovation and expansion of the museum.
 

The clocks in the exhibition Precision and Splendor reflect some of the major debates about time that have occurred over the last five hundred years. This lecture discusses the relevance of the exhibited clocks  to our understanding of some of the great historic changes in timekeeping, including the Gregorian calendar and the Counter-Reformation, the Copernican revolution, the replacement of solar time with mean time, and the French Revolution's failed experiment with decimal time.
 

 

Dorothy Johnson explores the significance of David d'Angers's public and private works, from medallions and busts to statues and statuettes of famous figures. In particular, she considers the ways in which David read and interpreted the world and the individuals who helped shape it as visible signs of a hidden language of nature and culture.
 

In a celebrated passage from his Histoire de la Révolution Française, historian Jules Michelet (1833–1867) asserted that the French Revolution left no lasting monuments, only empty space. Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856), perhaps the greatest sculptor of the early nineteenth century, made it his life’s work to fill that void. This lecture follows David’s attempts to reinvigorate and adapt the notion of a historical monument to the new social and political landscape of modernity.

During a career spanning nearly sixty years, Piero della Francesca worked in almost every major center across the Italian peninsula, although nowhere did he accept more commissions than in Borgo San Sepolcro. Like his native city, Piero's paintings are possessed of a character that is neither Florentine nor Sienese but entirely unique. On the closing weekend of the special exhibition, the show's curator discusses Piero's career in Borgo and explores how some of his masterpieces created for that city reached American shores.

The landscapes in Piero's paintings, particularly his Baptism of Christ (The National Gallery, London), are often thought to recall the area around his hometown of Borgo San Sepolcro. In truth, they evoke the upper Tiber Valley without describing it precisely. But what did it mean to locate sacred scenes in a recognizable and local setting? Did that landscape carry any connotations for the fifteenth-century residents of Borgo San Sepolcro that might be lost to us today?

— This lecture was made possible by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

The Kodak camera was introduced in 1888 and quickly captured the imagination of the public, amateur photographers, and artists. Thousands of photographs, only recently discovered in the attics and archives of artists working in the 1890s, reveal their fascination with this new tool. While some snapshots relate closely to their painted work, others indicate an exploration far beyond the artists' known work in oil on canvas and expand our understanding of their oeuvre.

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