At the beginning of this month Lee Young came to the Essex Egyptology Group to talk about Howard Carter as an artist (rather than as an archaeologist). She is an independent researcher associated with the Griffith Institute in Oxford where the bulk of Carter's notes and archives are kept. Although she was talking to us today about Carter she said that her real research interest is in the female artists whose works are represented in the Griffith Institute collections.
Hans Holbein the Younger was one of the foremost portrait painters to work in England during the Tudor period (and perhaps ever), and it's his paintings that shape how we see the court of Henry VIII. Discussing his time at the Tudor court on In Our Time were Susan Foister (the National Gallery), John Guy (Clare College, University of Cambridge) and Maria Hayward (University of Southampton).
Back in April J and I visited the Defining Beauty exhibition at the British Museum which finished in early July. It's the only one of their exhibitions where I've been as ambivalent about it on the way out as I was on the way in - which says rather more about me than the exhibition, I think. The subject of the exhibition was Ancient Greek sculpture and the incredible impact it has had on the modern Western definition of beauty.
Andrew Graham-Dixon has done several series for the BBC about the art of various places - one of the more recent was about China and we watched it earlier this year. He covered the art of this vast and long-lived culture in chronological order, so the series also provided an overview of the history of China.
Border Country can be fairly characterised as unashamed propaganda for the No-to-Independence side of the upcoming referendum in Scotland. To be fair that fits my own bias* so I was predisposed to like the series. The narrative structure for the two programmes was a history of the border regions of England and Scotland from the time of the Romans through to James VI & I as ruler of both countries.
Last Thursday we went to the British Museum to go to a talk about Chinese figurines (and we'd hoped to go to another talk later the same day but it was sold out). In this talk Sascha Priewe (a curator at the British Museum) was talking about traditions of figurine making in ancient China and how this did (or didn't) lead to the First Emperor's terracotta army.
Baroque! - From St Peter's to St Paul's was a three part series presented by Waldemar Januszczak about Baroque art and architecture. The three programmes moved in geography (covering Italy, Spain & the Netherlands, and Britain respectively) and forwards in time. He started off with the story of how baroque art has its roots in the Counter Reformation - basically intended to propagate the "right" Christian message via eye-catching art.
The second episode of Alastair Sooke's series about the art of Ancient Egypt covered the Middle Kingdom (briefly) and most of the New Kingdom. He only picked a couple of objects from the Middle Kingdom - both from Senusret III's reign. He gave the impression that this is because the New Kingdom was the Golden Age, which is true in some ways, but the Egyptians themselves looked back at the Middle Kingdom as their "classical age" where art and culture first achieved great heights.
There's a new series just started called Treasures of Ancient Egypt, so of course we're watching it not long after it airs (the day after, actually, but because of the way I've scheduled my blog posts this post has gone live 8 days after). The series is presented by Alastair Sooke, and is similar in format to the Treasures of Ancient Rome series that he did a while ago (post).