Lecture titles available for the Arts Society (former NADFAS)
Lecture Synopses
These lectures are available for national and international branches of the Arts Society and other groups, by arrangement.
1.From Peasants to Czars: A Portrait of 19th century Russia

Up until the early 19th century Russian painting consisted almost entirely of academic styles and subject matter dominated by the west, Paris in particular. Artists such as Alexey Venetsianov, encouraged by Czar Nicholas 1’s promotion of ‘national trends’ began to change the focus towards more home grown themes, such as the status of the Russian peasant. Already by mid century the class system and village structure, dominated by landowner and the orthodox church was under more critical scrutiny, led by artists such as Vasily Perov, but it wasn’t until the pioneering work of the group known as the “Peredvizhniki” or "Wanderers” that Russian society was put more fully under the microscope. By then the serfs had been liberated, in many cases ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of their new found freedom, as were their masters who suddenly found themselves with vast estates and a much reduced workforce. This lecture reveals the fascinating insight into this moving story afforded by the paintings of more than a dozen superb artists, yet whose work is still relatively unknown in the West.

2. Isaak Levitan and the Poetry of Landscape

Of all the Russian artists that emerged in the latter half of the 19th century, Isaak Levitan is considered the one who most captured the character of the Russian landscape. No-one put it better than his great friend Anton Chekhov , who wrote: “He rendered like no other the inexplicable charm of our humble poverty, the shoreless breadth of our virginal expanses, the festal sadness of the Russian autumn, and the enigmatic call of the Russian spring.” Able to find visual poetry in the simplest yet most characteristic features of the landscape, Levitan’s paintings enchant with their many moods, depicted in a style which is sometimes reminiscent of French Impressionism, an influence he flatly denied. The lecture also reveals the tensions caused by Levitan’s own Jewishness, a faith which precluded him from ever becoming truly accepted by the land he loved so much, and which is key to the poignancy of such seminal works as “Above Eternal Rest” and “Bells at Eventide”.

3. Russia in Revolt

Parallel almost to the Impressionist movement in France, the Russian artistic movement “the Wanderers” or “ Peredvizhniki” caused an equally dramatic and controversial sensation in the final decades of Czarist Russia. Initially comprising a group of 13 young artists and one sculptor who broke away from the Imperial Academy of Arts in protest against its rigid approach to style and subject matter, their membership expanded rapidly, taking their travelling exhibitions all over Russia, celebrating not just the beauty and character of their own native land but also exposing its many injustices in a style which has come to be known as “Critical Realism”. By the early years of the 20th century however, the movement was overtaken by Mir Iskusstva or “World of Art” movement, which championed the art of earlier epochs in protest against the anti-aesthetic nature of modern industrial society.

4.From Russia with Love

Following the changes that came about through the auspices of the “Peredvizhniki” or "Wanderers" movement, the focus of Russian painting changed from academic rigour to the many moods and characteristics of the Russian landscape itself. No longer would this merely provide a background to lofty themes, but would itself take centre stage, capable of telling its own story as powerful and as moving as any historical or mythological drama. Artists such as Savrasov and Levitan, Shishkin and Kuindzhi to name but a few, found a haunting and elegiac beauty in this hitherto neglected but vast subject matter. From her majestic forests and moonlit marshlands, her snowbound villages, gigantic skies, endless horizons and unstoppable rivers, artists such as these from the latter half of the 19th century distilled the very essence of the Russian landscape and gave it a voice we have only just begun to appreciate.

5. All about Icons

Why is it that so many icons appear so similar, so dark, so primitive even? It takes a trained eye to reveal the fascinating language of icons, the symbolism of colour and line, the meaning of reverse perspective, elongated fingers and faces and desexualised features. Combine this with an understanding of the process of creating or “writing” an icon and the many variations of a particular theme, and suddenly it all makes sense. Through a close look at their construction, common themes and characteristics of Russian icons in particular, this lecture will help de-mysticise these intriguing artworks and help explain why they are so central to Orthodox belief.

6. Fabergé: The Sunset of the Romanovs

As peasants starved and the drums of war and revolution drew ever closer, the Imperial family seemed increasingly remote, wrapped up in a private world of palaces and privilege. At its most extreme, this was reflected in the series of exquisite Easter eggs created by Russia’s master goldsmith, each one containing a unique “surprise”. This lecture examines the fascinating insight that these gave into the glittering but final chapters of the Romanov dynasty

Norway, Scandinavia and Germany:

7. The forgotten Genius of Anders Zorn

Of all the artists to come out of Sweden, only Anders Zorn achieved enduring international acclaim. His talent was evident from early childhood, and it was prodigious. Equally at home with watercolour and oil, he was a master of both landscape and portraiture, a characteristic he shared with his contemporary rival and friend, John Singer Sargent. Like him, he was the darling of the belle époque, and he went on to make his fortune painting America’s great and good, not least three American presidents. Stylistically similar, to Sargent, he also had the knack of conveying character with a few broad brushstrokes. This lecture examines some of his most iconic works, from his dazzlingly competent watercolours of his native Sweden to his gloriously confident portraits of American high society figures such as Isabella Stewart Gardner.

8. Masters of the North: the Golden Age of Nordic painting

Dazzled by the impact of impressionism it is easy to overlook the stunning achievements of Nordic painters during the 19th century. From the national romanticism of Norways’s Adolph Tidermand and Hans Gude, to the mythical landscapes of Finland’s Pekka Halonen and the impressionistic, moody interiors of Norway’s best known female painter, Harriet Backer, this lecture showcases the range of visual creations that helped shape a unique cultural identity, forged in part from a battle against the elements and social deprivation as much as political power and provincialism during the turbulent years of the 19th century.

9. Helsinki: a Jewel of Art Nouveau

Strangers arriving in Helsinki are often surprised by the belle époque architecture, which is at once familiar yet strange; familiar in that it seems to recall the elegant lines of Renee Mackintosh perhaps, yet strangely populated by unusual faces and creatures, mythical characters from Finland’s legends and her national epic, the Kalevala. This 19thcentury work of literature full of heroic tales dating back to the mists of time greatly inspired Jean Sibelius to compose some of his finest music, and artists such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela to paint some remarkable works. The lecture shows how art, architecture, music and literature came together in Finland’s quest for nationhood in the latter years of the 19th century and at the same time helped turn its capital city into a jewel of art nouveau, but with a distinctly Finnish flavour.

10. Midsummer Magic: an introduction to some of the glorious paintings of the Nordic impressionists and realists of the late 19th century

Cloaked for months of the year in snow or mist, it is only in summer that the more benign character of Norway, Denmark and Sweden is revealed, providing the inspiration behind the ravishing paintings of artists such as Kitty Kielland, Anders Zorn, Eilif Peterssen and Peder Severin Krøyer to name just a few. Often working in small communes, such as at the north Danish coastal village of Skagen these artists adapted the style of impressionism to the limpid light of the Nordic climate, a light which is hauntingly beautiful in the long hours of summer and especially at twilight. Midnight bonfires, moonlit promenades and the midsummer dance are all favourite subjects of these artists who depicted a world of summer stillness and tradition just as it was about to be shattered by the firestorm of World War I.

11. Edvard Munch: the Man behind the Madness

Although known worldwide for his legendary painting “the Scream”, few people know its long and tortuous prelude, nor its surprising aftermath. Haunted by disease and death and fuelled by alcohol and raging romantic obsession that only ever ended in catastrophe, it is understandable why he produced such tortured images, images whose provocative and scandalous impact he nonetheless learnt to exploit financially to great effect. Through an examination of seminal, often autobiographical paintings from earliest youth through to his final years, this lecture helps shed light on just what made this Norwegian artist tick, and just why his work became so central to the European expressionist and symbolist movements.

France, Spain and the Low Countries

12. Monet and his Gardens

Everyone knows about Giverny, but few about the gardens that preceded them and the personal circumstances that were their motivation. Late in life Monet admitted that he may have owed his love of painting to his love of flowers and gardening, which he had developed in early youth as an antidote to his unhappiness. This lecture unfolds the detail behind that statement, which is both moving and beautiful, as Monet struggles with his family, his love and his art. So many of his iconic works have their subject matter located in and around his garden, from his teenage home at Saint-Adresse, his rented homes at Argenteuil and Vétheuil to his great creation at Giverny, which became his only subject in his final years. Through diary entries and letters as well as paintings, the lecture reveals with specific horticultural and painterly detail the development of this life-long passion which climaxed in his monumental waterlily series, and which he shared with his other great gardening friend and colleague, Gustave Caillebotte.

13. Promenade Parisienne, a Walk with the Impressionists through 19th Century Paris

The landscape of Paris changed dramatically with the arrival of Louis Napoléon and his prefect, the Baron Haussmann. Ramshackle medieval streets were replaced by elegant apartment blocks and broad boulevards. Vast structures of cast iron and steel from the Gare du Nord to the Eiffel tower vied with Notre Dame for attention, and what were once sleepy villages like Montmartre quickly became as popular with pleasure seekers as they were with artists seeking cheap studios…Windmills that once ground corn were turned into dance halls and quiet spots by the river invaded by day trippers who now had access to the whole of Paris via its burgeoning railway network. All this and more besides is recorded in fascinating detail by artists such as Pissarro, Renoir, Sisley, Monet and Caillebotte to name but a few, so why not take a walk with the impressionists through the changing streets of this iconic city?

14. Out to Shock, the work of Edouart Manet

Manet is so often labelled an impressionist when in fact his style and colouring had less in common than one might imagine. Yet even though he was middle class and something of an elegant man about town, he was undoubtedly a rule breaker, a man who caused a sensation by his provocative updating of traditional subjects. Often referred to as a reluctant rebel, in paintings such as “Luncheon on the Grass” and “Olympia”, Manet showed a flouting of convention and a healthy disregard for techniques and tradition. All this foreshadowed the mood of liberalisation of both subject matter and style that were to be the hallmark of the impressionists themselves, and with whom Manet maintained a lively relationship. This lecture shows just why his paintings caused such a stir as well as affording a unique insight into the changing face of Paris and its society during the later years of the Second Empire and the decade that followed.

15. The Art of Provence: from Cézanne to Picasso

French painting has always been dominated by Paris, but with the coming of the railways in the 19th century, the South of France became a draw for many young artists from Vincent van Gogh and his ill fated studio of the South, to Cézanne and Picasso, both of whom laid the foundations for Cubism inspired by the rugged shapes of Provence. Where Cezanne wrestled with the geometry and harmony of nature, Monet struggled with its light and ferocious winds, yet all of them produced masterpieces that captured its spirit precisely. Others such as Matisse and Dufy depicted it in wild untamed primary colour that also spoke convincingly of the elemental power of this dramatic landscape and very different climate.

16. Vincent in Arles

The eighteen months that Vincent Van Gogh spent in Provence are amongst the most turbulent and written about in the whole of art history, yet only recently have some of the most fascinating details surrounding his time there come to light. The lecture examines the background to Vincent’s fascination with the South where he hoped to find the light of Japan, and establish a studio of the South led by Paul Gauguin. Through close examination of the Arles paintings the lecture shows how over the course of just 18 months his own unique style finally emerged, but only after an appalling act of self-mutilation. The build up to the crisis is a fascinating story, rendered all the more poignant by its tragic aftermath and about which much controversy still remains.

17. Artists of the Seine

Enjoy a boat ride through art history as we see how Impressionism emerged from the love affair with this iconic river. From the village of Barbazon in the East, and Le Havre and its environs to the West, the Seine had been providing inspiration for artists many years before Monet and Renoir vied with each other to capture its glittering reflections and fugitive light. Even Constable and Turner were captivated by it. This lecture looks however at the early influences on Impressionism provided by the likes of Camille Corot and Eugène Boudin, and how with the arrival of the railways villages such as Pontoise and Auvers sur Oise became magnets for the likes of Pissarro, Cézanne and Van Gogh and how social life migrated downstream to the islands and the banks of the Seine, inspiring such monumental paintings as Seurat’s “la Grande Jatte”.

18. Gauguin, Van Gogh and Emile Bernard: the Terrible Triangle

Most people are aware of the fight between Gauguin and Van Gogh, and of their time together in Arles, but few are aware of the background to that episode, that began on the coast of Brittany at Pont-Aven. It was here that Gauguin came to work alongside other artists attracted to the light and the looser style of artists such as Eugène Boudin who so influenced Monet. One of these young artists, Émile Bernard, stood out from the rest however. Confident and original, he adopted a unique style and approach that was much admired by Van Gogh and Gauguin, causing Gauguin to develop it into what became his own hallmark “cloisonniste” style. In addition, colour and emotions were associated in a revolutionary new way, leading ultimately to a new branch of art called Synthetism, a source of considerable discussion between the three and a cause of dispute between Gauguin and Vincent when he later moved to Arles.

19. Dutch painting in the Golden Age: from still life to interiors, what stories do they tell?

With the breaking away of the Protestant Dutch Republic from the Catholic South, Dutch painting in the 16th century changed to reflect its new aspirations. In place of Catholic, religious painting came a focus on interiors that reflected the wealth, aspirations and interests of their owners and through some remarkable Vanitas paintings reminded them of their own mortality. Banquet and flower painting also served this purpose , with no better representation of transiency than the tulip, the craze for which reached incredible heights in the 1630’s. The lecture introduces some seminal works that characterise this most important period.

20. A Taste of Dutch

Discover the coded messages that hide behind the wondrously depicted banquet paintings from 16th century Holland. What looks like the left overs from a well-to-do Dutch breakfast is on closer examination a more far reaching statement about the perils of luxury and the precariousness and transiency of life. None of which stops us from marvelling at the incredible level of detail and exquisite mastery of technique and structure that even inspired Matisse and Dali to produce their own 20th century versions.

21. Just a Tulip

This lecture tells the fascinating tale of how how the simple tulip came to dominate Dutch flower painting during the first half of the 16th century, a genre which had already come into its own as a form of Vanitas painting. It looks in detail at the depictions of its cultivation and display by artists such as Ambrosius Bosschaert and Balthasar van der Ast and examines the circumstances behind the bubble that by the 1830’s had inflated the price to a preposterous and unsustainable level.

22. Johannes Vermeer. The Magic and the Mystery

Very few paintings survive by this remarkable artist, and very little documentation survives to cast light on his background, yet each painting is an Aladdin’s cave of fabulous detail, exquisitely painted and full of enigmatic mystery. This lecture helps explain the enduring fascination of paintings such as “the View of Delft”, “the Milk Maid”, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and “the Little Street”. Through examination of the techniques used in their construction, the allegorical significance of repeated motifs such as the musical instruments and an exposé of some of the contemporary political and social background to the paintings, the mysteries are, partially, at least, revealed.

23. Gaudi: Turning Nature into Stone
The story of Spain's most iconic architect, from his childhood spent on its beaches forests and mountains to his finals years spent dedicated to the realisation of his ultimate fantasy, the "Sagrada Familia", is utterly compelling and immensely moving. We examine the theories behind his construction techniques and look in detail at how he applied the lessons of nature to create both magnificent private mansions and a temple, as he saw it, worthy of God himself.

Britain, America and Canada:

24. The extraordinary talent of John Singer Sargent

Few artists can match the achievements of this american artist who trained in Paris and spent much of his life depicting the world of the Belle Époque, from leisurely days on the Grand canal, to the society women of New York. His style is uniquely his own, impressionistic and realistic at once, flamboyant and spontaneous with a bravura and exactitude reminiscent of Velasquez and Van Dyck. Few can fail to be inspired by his exquisite handling of colour, tone and light, whether in oils or watercolour, landscape or portrait, his genius is universal.

25. The Battle of two Titans: Sargent v. Zorn

At the turn of the 20th century, Sweden's master painter, Anders Zorn and American born John Singer Sargent had the world at the feet...whether in watercolour or oils, both were impossibly gifted, both enjoyed glittering itinerant careers and both painted the rich and famous of Europe and the USA using similar virtuoso techniques. They were undoubtedly rivals who even today invite obvious comparisons. Which one, if either, was best? It will be for you to decide!

N.B. This lecture would fit equally well under both the Scandinavian and American sections of this Directory

26. Paintings from across the Pond.

This lecture covers the development of the modern USA as tracked by the painters of the romantic Hudson River School through to the gritty realism of the “Ashcan” movement. The dramatic landscapes of Francis Edwin Church and Thomas Cole were based partly on reality, partly on imagination, designed in part to portray the vast scale and infinite potential of these barely charted territories. Yet by the turn of the twentieth century, the focus had turned from the natural to the urban landscape and its populace as it faced up to the challenge of matching immigrant aspirations to reality.

27. Winslow Homer and the Art of New England.

Homer Trained originally as a newspaper illustrator, imbuing his style with a distinctive, graphic clarity designed to make an immediate impact. His approach to watercolour, distinguished by its glowing colours and faultless technique, combined with his interest in both natural and social subject matter, makes his work especially attractive; best known for his dramatic and moody seascapes, through his careful and moving studies of individuals such as farmworkers and teachers in his homelands of New England he also presents us with a fascinating and at times nostalgic portrait of the heart of America at a time of rapid expansion and change.

28. American Impressionism.

Many are familiar with the work of American artist and friend of Degas, Mary Cassatt, but rather fewer with such worthies as John Twachtman, Childe Hassam, William Merritt chase and Theodor Robinson. Although many of the American impressionists were indeed inspired by what they had seen first had see in Paris, they were no slavish copyists, and each developed his or her own distinctive style. From the intimate interiors and Long Island landscapes of William Merritt Chase to the atmospheric cityscapes and delicate gardens of Childe Hassam, this lecture shows how American followers of Impressionism adapted this style to record the many moods and changing face of America in the latter years of the 19th century.

29. Pioneers of the new America:  Artists of the Hudson River. 

Originating in the dramatic Adirondack mountains of Upstate New York, the  Hudson winds its way south to end alongside the skyscrapers of Manhattan. For much of  the 19th century,  it was a prime source of inspiration for artists who sought to associate the unspoilt grandeur and vast potential of these recently claimed lands with the hopes and aspirations of a new nation. The lecture focuses particularly on the work of English born Thomas Cole, who founded the movement, and later followers Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, who took the style beyond the Hudson to the  mighty Rocky mountains, the volcanoes of the Andes and the icebergs of the Arctic. The work of all three was charged with the unshakeable belief that such majesty could only be the work of a divine hand, and newcomers to their work will be left breathless at the artist's skill in depicting in romantic style  the full spectrum of moods and emotions such landscape can evoke.

30. New York! NewYork! the Ashcan Experiment.

Of all the places to be in the world at the end of the 19th century, it has to be New York.  The city enjoyed unprecedented growth as new blood flooded in from all over the world. As gleaming new skyscrapers grew skyward the squalor of teeming tenements and the struggle to survive in this rapidly changing city  became rich pickings for a young group of artists seeking new inspiration. For the artists of the  "Ashcan school" nobility could be found not just in the grandiose buildings of this booming city but in the daily lives of the labourers who built it. 

31. Tiffany & Co: Of Diamonds and Decadence. 

Founded by Charles Tiffany with a loan of just  $1000, The firm of  Tiffany & Company, New York grew from a small bric -à-brac shop  to become purveyors of the finest luxury goods and the world's leading jewellers. The business  evolved even further under Charles's immensely gifted son Louis, who not only completely redesigned the now lost interior of the White house but spent over thirty years  developing the manufacture of the most exquisite glass. From wonderful vases and lamps to the diamonds worn by Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" this is a fascinating tale of how art and luxury came together to create one of the the world's most iconic brands

32. Castles in the Air- New York in the Gilded Age
The period from around 1870 until 1900 saw fortunes repeatedly made and lost as entrepreneurs cashed in on the building and railway boom that swept over the American continent. Men like Astor, Vandebilt and Carnegie built magnificent mansions to rival the finest French chateaux and summer "cottages" that were preposterously grand. Their heyday was short-lived however, nearly all replaced today by skyscraper hotels, but their fascinating story and that of their glamorous occupants lives on...


33. Glitz and Glamour in the Golden Age of the Transatlantic Liner.

The Battle for the Blue Riband dominated Atlantic travel for many decades and the rivalry between the major shipping lines to build the the biggest and best leviathons of ocean travel was intense. Ships such as French Line’s Ile de France and Hapag Lloyd’s Imperator rapidly became not just floating works of art but ships of state with stunning décor to match. The lecture shows how they were adapted to match changing tastes; from the elegance of the French chateau and the heaviness of the Dutch renaissance to the dazzling sophistication of what became known as “streamline moderne”, the lecture presents rare archive photographs of interiors from iconic ships such as the original Mauretania to the magnificent, but short lived Normandie.

34. Hans Holbein and the Ambassador’s Secret.

The double portrait identified only in the last century as two ambassadors to the court of Henry Vlll at the time of his “Great Matter” – his divorce from Katherine of Aragon - and which hangs in the National gallery, is a painting that has been subject to much interpretation and research not least by Mary Hervey and the more recent, if controversial efforts of John North. Through a careful study of the intriguing objects and structural elements of the painting, combined with an exposé of the background political events that were threatening to destabilize the then known world, the audience will be asked to evaluate the validity of some quite remarkable and intriguing theories and draw its own conclusions as to the painting’s overall significance.

35. The Real da Vinci Code
This lecture reveals just what it is about that quirk of mathematics we call “Golden Ratio” that has so intrigued artists, scientists and even novelists such as Dan Brown down the ages. The latter’s best selling novel brought it to public attention, and rightly so. This lecture goes further into the ratio’s underpinning of outstanding design in nature, art and architecture, encouraging some to suggest this could be the blueprint of the universe itself.

36. When Cotton was King: the Architectural Legacy of 19th Century Manchester : From Warehouse to Palazzo

19th century Manchester, or “Cottonopolis’ as it became known, was the world’s first industrialized city that enjoyed unstoppable growth for much of the last century. With that growth came grand commercial and civic buildings on a scale and of a quality never witnessed in the city before. This lecture examines the extraordinary variety of such buildings and shows how their architects and stonemasons brought directly into the streets of Manchester the golden age of Pericles, the architecture of Renaissance Italy and the gothic of the Grand Canal. It goes into a detailed study of the allegorical sculpture and decoration of many of these buildings, many of which have fascinating stories to tell and which were designed by eminent architects such as Charles Barry and Alfred Waterhouse even before they went on to make names for themselves in the capital itself.

These may be multiples or combinations of any of the above.

In the case of the latter, “When Cotton was King”, there are 2 further parts available individually or as part of a Study Day
Part 1: as above
Part 2 :“Town Hall Triumphant” – this looks at the story behind the building of the magnificent Town Hall by Alfred Waterhouse, described by many as the last great gothic building of the 19th century . It looks at the competing designs, the battle to build it, the decoration and sculpture and the personalities behind some of the key figures. It also looks at the fascinating series of paintings in the Great Hall that tell the history of Manchester by Ford Maddox Brown.
Part 3: “Boom, Bust and Baroque” The concluding part of the story deals with the years that followed the opening of the town hall, the change of styles from gothic, to art nouveau and Edwardian Baroque and pared-down classicism. Some of the finest civic and commercial buildings went up at the very time the industry was on the wane, some of which have found exciting new uses as the city has reinvented itself in a thoroughly modern context.

STARS & STRIPES- the art of 19th Century America
Part 1: Pioneers of America
looks at the romantic idealization of this new and exciting landscape via artists of the Hudson River school, such as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, and Frederic Edwin Church.
Part 2:
The art of Winslow Homer- this in-depth study of the artist many consider to be America’s finest will look at what makes him so special, from his superb watercolours to engravings that rival Rembrandt’s. Each one gives exquisite and moving insight into post civil-war America.

Part 3:
New York! New York! The Ashcan Experiment
Takes us deep into New York’s beating heart as it metamorphosed from a small time colonial outpost to a vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis. The new generation of artists known as the “EIGHT” challenged academic norms in their gritty depictions of every day life, yet their works were no less full of pathos, drama and atmosphere.
Tiffany & Co. - Of Diamonds and Decadence
From humble beginnings, through the remarkable talents of both Charles abd Louis Comfort Tiffany, this firm emerged to be at the forefront of design and desirability. From fabulous jewels and unique glassware to dazzling, cutting edge interiors, they offered a total, bespoke service to the rich clients of America’s gilded age.

Another catchy combination may run under the title "America -SAIL, SWEAT AND SPARKLE", combining the following three lectures:
The Glitz and Glamour of the Transatlantic Liner
New York! New York! The Ashcan experiment
Tiffany & Co - Of Diamonds and Decadence

RUSSIA – from Romanovs to Revolution
part 1: From Peasants to Czars, a portrait of Czarist Russia
As the century progressed, the attention of artists turned from conventional portraits and grand historical chapters from Russian history to the real Russia – the Russia of the peasant and her challenging but wonderful landscape.

part 2:
Isaac Levitan and the Poetry of Landscape
Widely acknowledged as Russia’s master of landscape, Levitan had but a few years to capture the magic and majesty of its vast terrain. every picture tells a story, not just of Russia as it emerged into the modern world, but of the painter’s own struggles, as a Jew and as an artist, to be accepted in the country he clearly loved so much.

Part 3.
The Road to Revolution
!917 was a long time in coming, preceded by both political and artistic upheaval. Arguably, it began with the liberation of the serfs in 1861, a double edged sword that brought both freedom and devastating change. Artists such as Ilya Repin dared to depict with graphic realism the social and political consequences, whilst others such as Kazimir Malevich would create a revolution in art the effects of which are reverberating to this day.

Parts 1, 2 and 3 can can be made up of any suitable combination of:

Masters of the North
From wild romantic landscapes of Norway, the quiet cityscapes of Copenhagen and both realist and impressionist masterpieces from Skagen on Denmark’s most northerly tip, we take a look at what was happening in Scandinavian painting during the 19th Century

Midsummer Magic
Late 19th century artists such as Kitty Kielland, Peder Severin Krøyer and Anders Zorn brought both realist and impressionist techniques to bear as they gave expression to the magical light of the Nordic summer and portrayed the everyday activities of a world far removed from that of the big industrial cities, but t one which was about to be violently disturbed by the firestorm that was World War One.

Struggling to Survive:
Living anywhere in the 19th Century was tough, but in places like Norway and Russia it was as tough as it gets…. for fishermen and farmers a constant battle with the elements, for all the threat of famine and disease, especially the dreaded T.B. Yet out of misfortune came some of the most moving, if sometimes harrowing paintings of the 19th Century, not least by Edvard Munch and Christian Krohg.

Edvard Munch: The Man Behind the Madness
Presents the portrait of the man behind “the Scream”, a painting which has many equally disturbing predecessors and continuations, each one providing graphic insight into this iconic artist’s motivation and life story. Not for the fainthearted.

The Forgotten Genius of Anders Zorn.
in his day, Anders Zorn was as well known and as successful as John Singer Sargent, yet Sweden’s master painter is all but forgotten. Prepare to be amazed at his stunningly beautiful paintings, from exquisite watercolours of quiet Swedish backwaters to magnificent oil portraits of America’s high society at the turn of the 20th Century.

Helsinki: A Jewel of Art Nouveau
Learn how art, architecture, literature and the music of Sibelius came together to underpin the National Romantic style that emerged as Finland’s unique version of “Art Nouveau”, and which gave artistic expression to Finland’s quest to become a sovereign nation. Includes musical excepts.

From Peasants to Czars: A Portrait of Czarist Russia
Through seminal portraits and iconic landscapes from realist artists such as Ilya Repin , Ivan Kramskoi and Isaak Levitan, we take you on a pictorial troika ride through some of the most significant chapters of Russian history.