Royal Oak Foundation Lectures, Spring 2015

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on March 9, 2015

A selection of the season’s offerings from The Royal Oak Foundation as related to the eighteenth century:

Royal Oak’s speakers are engaging, knowledgeable experts with a passion for a variety of topics related to The Royal Oak Foundation’s mission.

Charles Hind | Palladianism: Four Centuries of Style
First Baptist Church, Charleston 12 May 2015
Chicago Architectural Foundation, 8 May 2015
The MAA Carriage House, Washington, D.C., 5 May 2015
Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium, New York, 7 May 2015
The Union League of Philadelphia, 4 May 2015

The year 2015 marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of the first English translations of Andrea Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura [The Four Books of Architecture] and Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus. Since the early 17th century, Palladio’s work, as adapted by Inigo Jones for English taste and needs, has influenced architects and clients. British Palladianism, as developed by Jones, Campbell, Lord Burlington and William Kent also proved hugely influential in northern Europe and in the British Colonies including India and North America.

Charles Hind, Chief Curator and H.J. Heinz Curator of Drawings at the Royal Institute of British Architecture, will examine the development of Palladianism in Britain using drawings, photographs and models from the RIBA’s collections, as well as contemporary architects’ practices. He will demonstrate how the contributions of this 16th-century Venetian man influenced centuries of style, and how Palladianism became one of the most important styles ever designed by a single architect, and is still used in public and private buildings.

Charles Hind’s areas of specialty are Andrea Palladio and British architecture from 17th to early 20th centuries. He co-curated a major European exhibition on Palladio in 2008–2009, and served as joint curator and co-author of the catalogue for the 2010 exhibition Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey. Mr. Hind has written numerous journal and magazine articles and lectured on architecture and British country houses. He also leads art and architecture tours in Virginia, St. Petersburg, and Venice. Mr. Hind has curated a number of exhibitions held in the RIBA Heinz Gallery and in the V&A+RIBA Architecture Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

David Milne | ‘Still Life Drama’: A Walk Through Dennis Severs’ House
The Explorers Club, New York, 18 June 2015

At the Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street in London, visitors are invited not to a museum to learn how people lived in the past, but rather to participate in what the founder called “a still life drama.” Guests walk through each room of the house in a multisensory experience feeling as if the 18th- and 19th-century inhabitants have only just withdrawn a moment before. These encounters were designed by American collector and founder Dennis Severs, who bought a semi-derelict early 18th-century house in the 1970s and then set about bringing it back to life. With no desire to restore the house, Severs instead wanted to honor what he imagined were the echoes of the house’s history. So armed with a chamber stick and pot, he created the fictional story of a Huguenot silk merchant’s family who might have lived in the house for generations from 1724 to 1914.

The triumph and tragedy of this fictional family is told through each room over several stories. Severs filled the house with original objects he bought in London’s street markets and sale rooms, atmospherically lit by candlelight. Painstakingly assembled over 20 years, many of the rooms are mocked up in the manner of stage scenery using inexpensive materials—all is artifice but still conveys a haunting sense of London’s past: silk waistcoats are flung across rumpled bed clothes, a card game has just ended, fires crackle, and steam rises from a filled punch bowl. Curator David Milne will discuss Dennis Severs’ incredible vision and illustrate how his remarkable home uniquely captures a moment in time.

David Milne has served as curator of Dennis Severs’ House since 1990. He has previously worked for Paul Dyson & Associates on projects for the Royal Historic Palaces, the Royal Opera House, the V&A Museum, Versace and Armani. He has been invited to give lectures for The National Trust and English Heritage, and was awarded the Verney fellowship by the Nantucket Historical Association in 2006–2008.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Sean Sawyer | Tales of Loss & Redemption: The Country House in the National Trust
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Boston, 14 April 2015
The Explorers Club, New York, 28 April 2015
The Union League of Philadelphia, 27 April 2015

From the 1880s through the 1930s, Britain experienced a revolution in land ownership only paralleled in its history by the Norman Conquest and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Britain’s landed elites found themselves under attack by the forces of modernity on all fronts, and their bastions, the country house, fell to the auction block and the wrecker’s ball in increasing numbers throughout the first half of the 20th century. Into this breach in the fabric of British landed society stepped a reluctant new force of social order, the National Trust.

The Royal Oak Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. Sean E. Sawyer will discuss the National Trust’s role in rescuing some of Britain’s greatest country houses and their internationally significant collections of decorative and fine arts.

From a reluctant recipient of a handful of houses in the 1920s, the Trust evolved, through its Country Houses Scheme, to lead the way in preserving houses and collections through the bleakest years of the post-World War II era. The last decades of the 20th century saw a revival of fortunes for the country house and the Trust’s adaptation as its role as a leading operator of visitor attractions. This is a story full of deaths, both mortal and material, and of daring rescues and bureaucratic blindness. This illustrated lecture will explore some of the Trust’s most important properties, including Blickling and Hardwick Hall, and of the families and great characters who haunt them still.

Sean Sawyer became the Executive Director of The Royal Oak Foundation in October 2010. He received a B.A. summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1988 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1999, specializing in 18th- and 19th-century British architectural history. In 1996, he was awarded the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s Hawksmoor Essay Medal, and in 2002 he attended the Attingham Summer School as a Royal Oak Fellow. Dr. Sawyer has taught at Columbia, Fordham and Harvard universities as well as The Parsons / New School Master’s Program in the History of Decorative Arts & Design at the Cooper-Hewitt. He has contributed essays and articles to numerous publications on Sir John Soane and late Georgian architecture and urbanism as well as Dutch-American history and architecture. From 2001 to 2007, he served as Executive Director of the Wyckoff House & Association, a Brooklyn-based organization focused on the operation of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. Prior to joining Royal Oak, Sean was the Director of Administration and Development for the History Department at Columbia University for three years. He is a founding and current member of the Board of Directors for the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance, which supports the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in Inwood, northern Manhattan.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Michael Snodin | A Little Gothic Castle: Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill
Scandinavia House, New York, 23 March 2015
The Union League of Philadelphia, 24 March 2015
Boston Athenaeum, 26 March 2015
Timken Museum, San Diego, 30 March 2015
UCLA Faculty Center, Los Angeles, 1 April 2015
Arader Galleries, San Francisco, 2 April 2015

Strawberry Hill, the fantasy gothic revival castle in Twickenham, was created during the mid-18th century for the politician, historian, and author Horace Walpole. But Strawberry Hill was more than an assemblage of bricks, plaster and papier mâché: it was the place to house Walpole’s eclectic collection. Portraits by renowned artists, furniture, and porcelain were displayed alongside eccentricities such as a limewood ‘lace’ cravat carved by Grinling Gibbons, embroidered gloves belonging to James II, and Dr. Dee’s mirror.

Mr. Snodin will describe Walpole’s collection—nearly all dispersed in an 1842 auction—and discuss the treasure hunt which is now underway to return as much as possible to the house. He also will illustrate the house’s incredible interiors and reveal how medieval architecture was the inspiration for the style of this summer villa: the stone fan vaulting of Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey influenced an ethereal confection of gilded plaster and papier mâché for Walpole’s Gallery. “My house is of paper like my writings,” wrote Walpole, “and both will blow away ten years after I am dead.” However, the house has miraculously survived and is now restored to its original appearance from 1790.

Michael Snodin is a design and architectural historian and Chairman and Hon. Curator of the Strawberry Hill Trust and the Strawberry Hill Collection Trust. In his career at the Victoria and Albert Museum he was Head of the Designs Collection, a Senior Curator and a Senior Research Fellow. He curated galleries as well as several major exhibitions including Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill which opened in 2009 at The Yale Center for British Art. In addition to exhibition catalogues, his publications include many specialist articles. He is curator of Strawberry Hill Restored, which will open in 2017.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s