Music, Muses and Divas: Special Lectures

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Frederic Leighton, Pavonia, 1858–1859. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Photo © Christie's

The Legion of Honor transports you to London, England, during the time of Oscar Wilde for a look at the Aesthetic Movement. See how a rebellious group of young artists changed the culture with their vision of “art for art’s sake” as examined in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900.
Muses, Music, and Divas: Special Lectures
Tim Barringer
1 p.m. Lecture
"Aspiring to the Condition of Music: Sound and Vision in the Aesthetic Movement"

"All art constantly aspires to the condition of music": Walter Pater's dictum of 1877 was a response to paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederic Leighton, and Albert Moore, in which the interaction of sound and sight, or music and art, was a central theme. Music rooms with elaborate decorative schemes were a central concern of the period's designers. This talk juxtaposes paintings, decorated pianos, and music rooms with recorded musical examples to explore the kinship of the "sister arts." It ends with discussion of a musical satire of the Movement, Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Patience.

Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. His books include Reading the Pre-Raphaelites (new edition 2012), Men at Work: Art and Labour in Victorian England (2005) and Frederic Leighton (co-edited with Elizabeth Prettejohn). He is co-curator of Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde, an exhibition opening at Tate Britain in September 2012 and travelling to Washington, Moscow, and Tokyo.

Peter Trippi
2 p.m. Lecture
"Stagestruck: Theatricality in Late Victorian Art"

Today late Victorian art is widely perceived as serene, demure, even static. Though this view can be accurate, a closer look also reveals a rich seam of compositions informed by the unprecedented visibility of such dynamic stage performers as Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and Sarah Bernhardt. Using the ostensibly placid paintings of J. W. Waterhouse as a starting point, this talk explores how artists' creations in this vein drew upon longstanding traditions in British visual culture, but especially upon the contemporary vogue in the theaters of London and Paris for charged confrontations and opulent spectacle.

Peter Trippi is editor of Fine Art Connoisseur, the bimonthly magazine that serves collectors of historical and contemporary representational painting, sculpture, drawings, and prints.  He is also president of Projects in 19th-Century Art, Inc., the firm he established in 2006 to pursue a range of research, writing, and curating opportunities. Phaidon Press published Trippi’s 250-page monograph J. W. Waterhouse, which reassesses the Victorian painter and Royal Academician best known for his Lady of Shalott at the Tate Britain. Trippi also guest-curated the Waterhouse retrospective (2008-2010) at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Upcoming Cult of Beauty Public Programs:

Sunday, June 17: The Picture of Dorian Gray screening with introduction by film critic Sean Martinfield

Ticket Information

Lectures are free after museum admission. There are no reservations for this lecture.

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Contact Information

Gregory Stock