Autumn Online Lecture Series 2024: Crossing Boundaries-Victorian Art, Design and Architecture-7 talks for 6

Online Autumn Lecture Series

Crossing Boundaries: Victorian art, Design and Architecture

We are used to the idea of Victorian architecture, art and design as separate disciplines, with their own historians. But that seriously misrepresents the way that many nineteenth-century architects and designers thought and practiced. They conceived of the fine and decorative arts as part of an architectural whole – a total work of art.

Our seven expert speakers will boldly break down disciplinary boundaries in a discussion of the use of colour and texture across the whole range of Victorian design and analyses of the important roles played by mosaic, stained glass, embroidery and three-dimensional wall coverings. Among the highlights are lectures on two great designers who sought in very different ways to fuse architecture with decoration and the fine arts – Owen Jones and Alfred Stevens – both the subjects of major new books by our speakers

Buy tickets for all 7 Online Talks for the price of 6. You can watch recordings of the talks at a time which suits you. Recordings are sent out to you within a week.

1: Outstanding Stories: Victorian Relief Decorations by Jo Banham

Tue 29 October, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The final quarter of the 19th century witnessed the development of many new products in the wallpaper industry. Chief among these were relief decorations like Lincrusta Walton, Anaglypta and Japanese Leather Papers that perfectly imitated the appearance of materials such as wood, plaster and embossed leather. This talk explores the history, design and production of these innovative but still under-rated wall-coverings.

Jo Banham has written on many aspects of late 19th and early 20th century interior decoration. She is currently researching a book on the history of wallpaper to be published in autumn 2025.

2: Colour Revolution: Victorian Art, Fashion & Design by Matthew Winterbottom

Wed 6 November, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Matthew Winterbottom talks about the recent Ashmolean Exhibition Colour Revolution: Victorian Art, Fashion & Design that sought to challenge widely held perceptions that the Victorian age was dark and gloomy. As well as reviving the rich colours of the ancient and medieval past, of the Middle East, India, China and Japan and the natural world, artists and architects embraced the new vivid hues which technological and scientific advances made possible. This explosion of colour was embraced by artists, designers and many others in all walks of 19th-century life.

Matthew Winterbottom is the Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

3: Fair and Beautiful to Behold: Ecclesiastical Embroideries by Mary Schoeser

Tue 12 November, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

This lecture discusses the neo-Gothic in relation to textiles and wallpapers, which focuses on ecclesiastical embroideries in particular. The title, Fair and Beautiful to Behold is after a quotation from G.E. Street. The lecture spills into the Edwardian period to include a Pankhurst banner and Ann Macbeth frontal, to bring out the double meaning of ‘fair’ (in social/political terms).

As a predominantly freelance historian, Mary Schoeser MA FRSA has written about 200 diverse publications (books, chapters and magazine articles), which include Textiles: A concise history (T&H: 2003 revised 2022), Silk (Yale University Press, 2007), and The Art of Wallpaper: Morris & Co. in Context (ACC Art Books, 2022 and 2024).

4: Owen Jones and the V&A. by Olivia Horsfall Turner

Wed 20 November, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Owen Jones was one of the most influential designers of mid-19th-century Britain, and had a particularly close relationship with the engine of design education that was the South Kensington Museum. This talk will examine each of the projects that linked Jones and the early V&A. Drawing on the research for her book, Owen Jones and the V&A: Ornament for a Modern Age (2023), Dr Horsfall Turner will shed new light on both Jones’s ideas about architecture, ornament, and the identity of the early V&A.

Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner is Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, where she looks after the collection of design drawings and models.

5: The Mosaics of Westminster Cathedral by Peter Howell

Tue 26 November, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

J F Bentley intended that the interior should be covered in marble revetment and mosaics. He never had any mosaics installed, but he approved the designs for the Holy Souls Chapel by his friend William Christian Symons. Other early mosaics were designed by J R Clayton, Robert Anning Bell and George Jack.

Peter Howell, former Chairman of the Victorian Society is the author of John Francis Bentley (2020).

6: ‘The Ideals and Experiments of Enthusiasts’: Innovations in the Art and Craft of Stained Glass in the Later Nineteenth Century by Peter Cormack

Tue 3 December, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

The quest for materials that would evoke the chromatic and textural qualities of early medieval stained glass inspired the work of manufacturers, artists and architects during the Victorian era. This illustrated lecture examines how the art form evolved alongside new technical developments.

Peter Cormack MBE FSA HonFMGP was formerly Keeper of the William Morris Gallery, London. He has been a Research Fellow at the V&A Museum, and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Honorary Curatorial Adviser for Kelmscott Manor and Vice-President of the British Society of Master Glass-Painters.

7: Alfred Stevens: Master of Design, 1817-1875 by Teresa Sladen

Tue 10 December, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

When Alfred Stevens was waiting to hear who would finally be given the commission to design the Wellington Monument he said “They must give it to me. No one else knows anything about ornament”. What he meant by this is the subject of my lecture. While other artists usually regarded themselves either as painters, sculptors or architects, Stevens considered himself a master of all three. This enabled him to pursue the integrated approach to design to which he was naturally drawn. This lies at the heart of all patternmaking and his supremacy in this field can be seen not only in his designs for a wide range of ornamental products but also in his grand schemes of architectural decoration.

Teresa Sladen worked for the Victorian Society for ten years before becoming a freelance architectural historian.


Image: Ornate bookcase, with mythological and religious representations. Designed by William Burges (1827-1881) Photo by Gts-tg Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Ticket Price: £36
Date: October 29th, 2024
Time: 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm