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21 January 2019Classic Ground: Renaissance Gardens of Italy
10 December 2018The Queen of Instruments: The Lute in Old Master Painting
19 November 2018The Seine Estuary: Capturing the 19th Century Imagination- Birthplace of Impressionism
15 October 2018Worcester 1750-1900
17 September 2018Treasures of the Black Tent: Antique Tribal Rugs and Dowry Weavings of the Persian and Central Asian Nomads
09 July 2018The Paston Treasure
18 June 2018Anglo Saxon and Norman England-architecture and cultural change
21 May 2018Telling Time through the Ages
16 April 2018Cremona and the golden age of violin making
19 March 2018The Art Market : how does it work?
19 February 2018James Wyatt - Charlatan or Genius
15 January 2018Wonders of the Roman Empire-Off Limits
11 December 2017Nativity in Art from Giotto to Picasso.
20 November 2017The Gleaming Spires of London – an armchair tour of London’s finest buildings.
16 October 2017William Cobbett and James Gillray: Political and Personal Cartoons of the early C19th.
18 September 2017Nursery Notions: The Illustration, Music and History of Nursery Rhymes
19 June 2017Objects of Desire: Cabinets and Ornamental Boxes for the Collector
15 May 2017Contemporary Artist:Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor
10 April 2017 Vivaldi in Venice
20 March 2017The Glasgow Boys (this will follow the AGM)
20 February 2017Creating A Splash-The St Ives Society of Artists (1927-1952)
16 January 2017 Cobwebs of Fashion-Honiton Lace

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Classic Ground: Renaissance Gardens of Italy Steven Desmond Monday 21 January 2019

In 1527 the Sack of Rome took place, a traumatic event which brought the Italian Renaissance to a crunching halt and caused a general exodus of patrons and artists into the relative safety of the surrounding countryside. Here they found themselves among forested volcanic hills watered by springs, in settings celebrated in antiquity by the Romans and Etruscans.

Soon these disparate forces made contact, and began the making of country estates along Virgilian lines, focused on the idea of the villa and its surrounding garden. The gardens themselves made geometric order out of the sloping woodland, terracing the ground into descending courtyards populated by statues, and channelling the natural watercourses into pools, fountains, cascades and refreshing water-jets. The rational pattern of the parterre formed a backdrop for flower and fruit gardens where cardinals and dukes could converse, appraise and receive.


Surprising numbers of these sites survive in good order today, in rich variety. Collectively they form a group of gardens which mark the change from mediaeval ideas to the unmistakable beginning of modern European garden history. The Villa Lante at Bagnaia, the Palazzo Farnese at Caprarola, the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo and the Villa d’Este at Tivoli are among the illustrious gardens viewed and brought alive in this richly illustrated lecture.