Friday 22nd March and Hendrika Foster delivered for us the first Jeff Kingaby Memorial Lecture in memory of our stalwart Secretary who kept us going when times were tough.. Hendrika comes to us fresh from her visit to Florence at the invitation of the British Council to lecture there on Renaissance Art – quite an achievement, made all the more impressive as her reception there was such that she has been invited to go again next year.
As the novels of Hilary Mantell and the many films exploring the period show it often seems that we cannot get enough of the Elizabethan and Tudor age with its mixture of glamour, brilliance and political and religious infighting and conflict. With this in mind Hnedrika chose as her subject “A Glimpse of Tudor Art”. As usual we got both a fascinating lecture and a stunning set of images.
Hendrika drew our attention to the fact that all the artists of the time were not Enlish but like Holbein came from the Netherlands and Europe and that the the subjects they were commissioned to paint were restricted to portraits of royalty and the nobility to be executed in the grandest possible way. The portaits of Elizabeth our Virgin Queen reached new hights of elaboration and richness in the amost impossible complexity of her gowns jewels and hair and in the waxen perfection of her skin, all designed to give her an icon like semi-divine aura and enhance her status in the face of the Spanish threat and the Gunpowder Plot.
Henedrika also showed us several of Holbein’s beautifully composed and executed portraits which did not only capture likeness and character with uncanny realism and sensitivity, but painted fur and velvet using the richest of colours quite perfectly.
To wet your appetite. The Ambassadors by Holbein.