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Lectures & Workshops

Our Winter | Spring 2018 lecture series is now open for booking. Further lectures will be added to the program so continue to watch this space.


Please use the bar on the right-hand side of the booking calendar below to see the full list of lectures programmed for each month.






THE JANE AUSTEN SERIES 2018

2018 will mark the 200th anniversary of  the release of Jane Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion.To commemorate this event we are presenting three lectures celebrating and honoring Jane’s creativity and talent. 

JANE AUSTEN & CATHARINE MACAULAY | A story of disinheritance, where the Austens get the goods with Karen Green
Thursday 14 June 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In this illustrated lecture Karen Green will talk about the rarely noticed family relationships that connect the famous republican historian, Catharine Macaulay, (born Catharine Sawbridge) with the Austen and Knight families. 

Tracing the marriage relationships between these families, she shows how Macaulay’s cousins were disinherited by the Knights’ decision to make Edward Austen their heir, revealing a complex web of overlooked inter-connections worthy of an Austen novel.

Karen Green is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. She has published numerous articles and books, including A History of Women’s Political Thought in Europe, 1700–1800 (Cambridge, 2014), A History of Women’s Political Thought in Europe, 1400–1700 (with Jacqueline Broad, Cambridge, 2009), and The Woman of Reason: Feminism, Humanism and Political Thought (Continuum, 1995). She is currently editing Catharine Macaulay’s correspondence for Oxford University Press. This will be her first lecture at The Johnston Collection.


image: engraved by Marais le Jeune [Jean-Michel Moreau le Jeune, (French, 1741–1814]
from the frontispiece of Histoire de l'Angleterre
[portrait of] Catharine (née Sawbridge) Macaulay, (1731-1791), late 18th century
stipple engraving on paper | paper size 187 mm x 119 mm (7 ⅜ in. x 4 ⅝ in.) 
image courtesy of the speaker

JANE AUSTEN’S LAST WORDS: Persuasion and Sanditon with John Wiltshire
Thursday 30 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

Hardly had Jane Austen finished writing (and re-writing) Persuasion than she started work on a new novel, known as Sanditon. They are amazingly different works.  John Wiltshire will talk about them and their manuscripts, which together tell us so much about Jane Austen’s genius and art.

John Wiltshire is an Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University. He has written extensively on Jane Austen, and is currently editing a collection of essays on Persuasion.  His most recent book is The Hidden Jane Austen.

image: Cassandra Austen (English, 1773-1845)
Jane Austen, circa 1810
pencil and watercolour on paper | 114 mm x 80 mm
© National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG 3630
purchased with help from The Friends of the National Libraries, 1948

“A MOST PATIENT PERSUASION” with Lise Rodgers
Thursday 25 October 2018 at 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm

Persuasion is the last novel fully completed by Jane Austen. It was published at the end of 1817, six months after her death.

This beautifully costumed and staged presentation commemorates the 200th year anniversary since the posthumous publication of Persuasion, and this significant milestone honors the ongoing interpretation and influence of Jane Austen’s life and works.

LISE RODGERS is an accomplished Melbourne actress whose career has spanned stage, screen and radio. Widely known for her ongoing Jane Austen series of performances, it is her passion for the Spoken Word that inspires her series of performed readings. Her most recent presentation at The Johnston Collection was Dressed For Success, as part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival | Arts Program Series 2018.


image Sir Thomas Lawrence, PRA (English, 1769-1830)
Portrait of Mrs John Allnutt, (née Eleanor Brandram)
(half-length) oil on canvas 
private collection

PERFECTLY PORTRAYED: Pastel painting and miniature portraits with Kathleen Kiernan
Tuesday 14 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

The personalised art form of miniature portraits and the fragility of pastel paintings are a mirror of the limitations placed upon artists working in these mediums and their hierarchical value. An art object’s monumentality traditionally elevates a work of art above pastel painting and miniature portraits. In the eighteenth century, at the peak of their popularity, the qualities of fragility and intimacy were part of these objects’ appeal. 

KATHLEEN KIERNAN completed her doctorate on 17th and 18th century British art and culture at the University of Melbourne. She has worked as a tutor in the undergraduate Art History program since 2014. Kathleen was the Harold Wright Scholar in 2007 and recipient of the Macgeorge and Alma Hansen Scholarships. She is currently writing a book for Monash University Publishing titled Dutch Prints in the English Landscape.

image: Rosalba Carriera (Italian, 1675–1757)
self-portrait holding a portrait of her sister, 1715 or 1709
pastel on paper
collection of the Uffizi Gallery, Italy
Public domain

SERIES TWO | ROBING & INVESTITURE STUDY SERIES with Susan Scollay and Catherine Kovesi
ROBING & INVESTURE is a new series of three illustrated lectures exploring the key role of luxury textiles and costume in promoting status and power during the early modern era (late 15th to late 18th centuries). 

 

THE ROBE OF HONOUR: East and West with Susan Scollay
Wednesday 15 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

This lecture will trace the historical custom of presenting honorific robes to confer new status and mark significant dynastic occasions. This was a widespread practice that evolved from its ancient origins in Asia, following the pathways of various empires along the Silk Route, to modern-day investiture ceremonies, now usually restricted to European coronations or the conferring of academic degrees. Robing ceremonies – past and present, east and west – incorporate subtle formulae that convey numerous diplomatic, economic and political meanings.      

DR SUSAN SCOLLAY is an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and in historic textiles. She is a contributing editor to HALI, the prestigious, London-based journal of carpet, textile and Islamic art, and is a fellow of The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain. Susan has lectured at The Johnston Collection since 2008 and in 2010 was guest curator of FLUID BORDERS: Ways of Seeing Oriental Rugs. Her most recent lecture was SILKS AT THE SERAGLIO: How Süleyman I (r. 1520–1566) created ‘magnificence’ at the Ottoman court.

Anthony van Dyck (English, 1599–1641)
Portrait of Sir Robert Shirley (1581–1628), 1622
oil on canvas, 214 x 129 cm
collection of National Trust, UK, Petworth House and Park, West Sussex, NT 486169

‘ONE UMBRELLA OF CLOTH OF GOLD – BOUGHT SECOND HAND’: representing Venice at home and abroad on a budget with Catherine Kovesi
Wednesday 22 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

The Venetian doge, Leonardo Donà dalle Rose, was notoriously parsimonious and shrewd in his investments. By the time of his death in 1612, he had accrued a family fortune of 85,000 ducats and embarked on building one of the largest family palazzi of Venice. 

In this lecture Catherine Kovesi opens Donà’s account books to reveal his calculated expenditures on clothing made both before and during his period as 90th doge of the city. In particular she compares his clothing expenditures as doge with those made fifty years before when Donà was appointed Venetian ambassador to the most powerful King of Europe, Philip II of Spain. 

This lecture analyses the pressures of keeping up the appearance of Venetian power to those abroad, and the mechanisms used to feign magnificence at home under budgetary pressures. 

Dr CATHERINE KOVESI is an historian of Early Modern Italy at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely on Italy’s role in the origins of modern consumer society, and is the editor of the forthcoming Luxury and the Ethics of Greed in Early Modern Italy (Brepols, 2018). She has an intimate knowledge of the city of Venice, to which she brings students and alumni of the University of Melbourne for focused periods of study.  Her most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was CLOTHING & CLOUT | The meaning and role of textiles in Renaissance Venice (2018)

artist unknown
portrait of Donà, Leonardo Donato (1536-1612), 17th century
image supplied | Public Domain

MIXING METAPHORS: the ‘Coronation’ Robe of Roger II of Sicily (r. 1130–1154) with Susan Scollay
Wednesday 29 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

This lecture outlines the story of one of the most extraordinary textiles that survives from the Middle Ages: a twelfth-century robe made for Roger II of Sicily and now in the Treasury of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. The spectacular garment is made of silk embroidered with gold and encrusted with precious stones. It bears an inscription that clearly attributes its manufacture to Palermo under the Norman kings and uses a beautiful combination of Christian and Islamic imagery.    

DR SUSAN SCOLLAY is an independent art historian specialising in Islamic art and culture and in historic textiles. She is a contributing editor to HALI, the prestigious, London-based journal of carpet, textile and Islamic art, and is a fellow of The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain. Susan has lectured at The Johnston Collection since 2008 and in 2010 was guest curator of FLUID BORDERS: Ways of Seeing Oriental Rugs. Her most recent lecture was SILKS AT THE SERAGLIO: How Süleyman I (r. 1520–1566) created ‘magnificence’ at the Ottoman court.


Mantle of Roger II of Sicily, dated 1133-1134 AD
Silk, gold and silk thread, semi-precious and glass jewels
Kaiserliche Schatzkammer, (Imperial Treasury), Museum of Fine Art, Vienna, acc. no. WS XIII 14

THE EUGENE BARILO VON REISBERG SERIES |

ROYAL DAUGHTERS: Immortalised in Paint

The title of princess conjures up courtly grandeur, and a careful upbringing and education in preparation for life at a foreign court as the leader of the fashionable world, champion of charitable and philanthropic endeavours, and the epitome of motherhood and domestic harmony. Some of the best court painters were called upon to encapsulate these exemplary qualities in their official portraits. 

In the second lecture series, developed by Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg exclusively for The Johnston Collection, he will continue to focus on the daughters of British, French, and Russian monarchs. The lectures will be richly illustrated with portraits which will be deployed as a nexus between the idealised public image and the reality of life behind the shutters of ivory towers. 

These lectures will be accompanied by scholarly essays in fairhall magazine, where a selection of portraits will be considered in depth.

Part 3 | THE FIVE DAUGHTERS OF QUEEN VICTORIA

Tuesday 7 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In comparison to Queen Charlotte and Queen Marie of the two previous lectures, Queen Victoria was an indomitable matchmaker, arranging marriages of her nine children with the scions of royal and aristocratic dynasties. The lecture focuses on contrasting lives of her five daughters, including the politically active Victoria, the artistically gifted Louise, and the shy Beatrice who became the source of comfort and support to her widowed mother. The British Royal Family’s tradition of art patronage resulted in the rich iconography of the five princesses, and the lecture includes consideration of their portraits by Sir Edwin Landseer, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Richard Lauchert, Heinrich von Angeli, Philip de Laszlo, and others. The lecture also takes into account the burgeoning evolution of photography and its role in the dissemination of royal images.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) with her Four Eldest Children, 1845
oil on canvas | 685 x 690 mm
The Royal Collection, England, RCIN 405293, Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018 | Public Domain

Part 4 | OTMA: The Four Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

Tuesday 21 August 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

The lecture focuses on Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, the four daughters of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra of Russia. It commemorates the 100th anniversary of the night when, in July 1918, the lives of these four accomplished young women were tragically cut short by the political and social upheavals of the era. By examining their portraits, the lecture would also consider the extent to which photography was becoming gradually the preferred method of visual communication between the people and the monarchy. The lecture concludes with an overview of the evolving posthumous history of the four young women, including false identity claims, influence on popular culture, and their canonisation and reburial in the post-Soviet Russia. 

This talk on the four daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra corresponds with the centenary of their death in July 1918.

Frederick Boasson and Fritz Eggler
Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia of Russia, 1914
albumen print, digitally enhanced
image supplied 

DR EUGENE BARILO VON REISBERG is a Melbourne-based scholar and art adviser, who shares his passion for art, history, and culture from the eighteenth century to the present day through regular lectures and publications. He has completed a doctoral dissertation on Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873), the 19th century elite portrait specialist, and is currently working towards a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s works

MELBOURNE STORIES

BOUND FOR AUSTRALIA: Anne Trotter's Needlework Specimen Book, 1840 with Laura Jocic
Tuesday 4 September 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

Amongst the possessions that Irish-born Anne Trotter packed in her trunk to start a new life in Australia was her needlework specimen book. Arriving in Port Phillip in 1844, Anne Trotter was one of many assisted emigrants who, along with other members of her family, were deemed suitable emigrants. 

Donated to Melbourne Museum in 2014 by a descendant, Anne's needlework book, which includes various plain sewing exercises and finely-stitched miniature shirts and dresses, provides an insight into the formal schooling provided to young working class women in nineteenth century Britain and Ireland and the skills which they brought to Australia. This lecture will discuss the context of the needlework book and posit its value to a young female emigrant.

LAURA JOCIC is undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, researching dress and its role in Australian colonial society, is a Research Associate at Museums Victoria and an independent curator. She was formerly a curator in the department of Australian Fashion and Textiles at the National Gallery of Victoria where she curated a number of exhibitions including AUSTRALIAN MADE: 100 Years of Fashion. In 2016 Laura curated the exhibition LOUIS KAHAN: art, theatre, fashion for the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn. Laura’s most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was A SMART NEW LIFE | Emigration, dress and Australian colonial society, 1820s – 1860s (2018).

Anne Trotter (b. 1820, arrived Melbourne 1844, d. 1910)
Needlework Specimen Book, Collon, County Louth, Ireland, 1840 
unbound book containing a range of sewing and knitting samples
collection of Museums Victoria, Melbourne, HT 36147
gift of Margaret Bagnall, 2014
© Museums Victoria / Creative Commons

A SOCIETY OF FRIENDS with Sophia Errey 
Wednesday 12 September 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

Objects possess an emotional resonance linked to our memories and sense of time and to our experience of the world around us, sensual and reflective. 

We will explore recent attempts to understand the role objects have both personally and culturally, and the significance of our collecting, and attaching meaning to, things which appear to have little aesthetic or material value, but which, as the Surrealists claimed, appear to us as “marvelous”.

SOPHIA ERREY is an artist, art educator and writer. She is particularly interested in material culture. Sophia has been a regular lecturer at The Johnston Collection since 2015 and her most recent lecture at was CLOTHED IN THE EXOTIC | India’s Influence on European Fashion (2018).

Upper bird tray from The Macquarie Collectors’ Chest c1818
Joseph Lycett (ca. 1775-1828); James Wallis (1785?-1858), William Westall (1781-1850)
The Macquarie chest (sometimes known as the Strathallan Chest), Australia, circa 1818
courtesy of the Mitchell Library, Sydney, collection of the State Library of New South Wales(SLNSW) (catalogue record 442725)
image provided | Wikimedia Commons

THE DIVERSITY OF GENIUS with Ian George
Thursday 6 September 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

Throughout the centuries creative people have shown astonishing versatility in their media of expression. Writers have had an urge to paint, painters to be composers, sculptors to be poets and so on. Leonardo da Vinci was remarkable as a visual artist but also as an engineer and poet. Michelangelo is renowned for his painting, sculpture and sonnets. In more recent times William Blake stands out as both painter and poet, and Victor Hugo as novelist and painter. In our own era people like D H Lawrence, Picasso, Strindberg, Klee, Dali and Andre Malraux have crossed disciplinary lines. What can we learn from this about the nature of creativity? Is there a lesson here in how we can all release our own creativity?

DR IAN GEORGE has been an art critic since the 1960. His postgraduate work was in aesthetics. Since then he has served on the Visual Arts Committee of the Festival of Perth, as a Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery and Vice-President of the Queensland Festival, had two terms on the Community Arts Board of the Australia Council and is a regular lecturer at the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of SA and the National Gallery of Victoria. His most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was How Much Colour is There in Your Life? in 2017.

image: Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)
Recto: A seated old man, and studies and notes on the movement of water. Verso: Architectural studies, circa 1510
Recto: Pen and ink. Verso: Red chalk | 154 x 217 mm (sheet of paper)
The Royal Collection, England, RCIN 912579, Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018 | Public Domain

BUSHRANGERS, BOTANY, ART AND BOOKS: The Grimwade Collection at Melbourne University with Alisa Bunbury
Tuesday 18 September 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In 1973 the University of Melbourne received a remarkable bequest, the Toorak house Miegunyah and its contents from the estates of Sir Russell and Lady Grimwade. 

Their collection comprises numerous works of art, decorative arts, furniture, rare books, historical documents and other memorabilia. 

Together it provides a twentieth-century perspective on Australia’s colonial history, with dominant themes reflecting Russell Grimwade’s desire to document the exploration, settlement and development of Australia as a nation, and the growth of Melbourne as a city. 

ALISA BUNBURY is the Grimwade Collection Curator at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne. From 2002-2017 she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Victoria, and prior to that worked at the Art Gallery of South Australia. 


image: William Strutt (1825-1915)
Bushrangers, Victoria, Australia, 1852 (1887)
oil on canvas
The University of Melbourne Art Collection. 1973.0038
Gift of the Russell and Mab Grimwade Bequest 1973. 

THE OTHER PAINTINGS OF ROBERT PEAKE THE ELDER with Ian George
Thursday 4 October 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In this lecture we will consider the other works of the great portrait painter Robert Peake (English, circa 1551-1626). While The Johnston Collection holds his simplified and reduced portrait of Edward Lord Montagu, dated 1601, what delights are contained within the richly detailed image of the lost prince in Prince of Wales with Sir John Harington in the Hunting Field or the richly symbolic Portrait of a Lady of the Hampden Family, circa 1610? Ian George will consider these and other remarkable works by Peake, as one of the few English-born artists of the period who attained the high standards of the expatriate artists who dominated the English scene at the time. He was amongst those who developed a style of full-length costume portrait of which it has been said, “There is nothing like them in contemporary European painting.”

DR IAN GEORGE has been an art critic since the 1960. His postgraduate work was in aesthetics. Since then he has served on the Visual Arts Committee of the Festival of Perth, as a Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery and Vice-President of the Queensland Festival, had two terms on the Community Arts Board of the Australia Council and is a regular lecturer at the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of SA and the National Gallery of Victoria. His most recent lecture at The Johnston Collection was How Much Colour is There in Your Life? in 2017.

image:Robert Peake the Elder (English, active 1580-1635)
Henry, Prince of Wales with Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex in the Hunting Field, circa 1605
oil on canvas | 1905 x 1651 mm 
The Royal Collection, England, RCIN 404440, Royal Collection Trust / ©Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018 | Public Domain

GARDENS ON THE EDGE: A journey through Australian landscapes with Christine Reid
Wednesday 17 October 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In its images Gardens on the Edge is as much about the diversity and character of the Australian continent as it is about the gardens. Its accompanying stories not only explore the establishment of the garden, but also reference Australian history and geography, and cover issues ranging from dealing with droughts and climate change to restoring a long-neglected kitchen garden.

Join internationally respected gardening author Christine Reid as she discusses the newly published Gardens on the Edge. Together with images by renowned photographer Simon Griffiths, Reid focuses on 18 stunning gardens from around Australia situated on a natural 'frontier'-rainforest, desert, bushland, saltbush plains, a volcanic crater, the ocean's edge, a harbour. The featured gardens have been created or restored in locations where the surrounding natural landscape is as significant as the cultivated and designed elements. 

Christine Reid is an Australian garden writer whose interests include the social and cultural history of gardens and designed landscapes, both historic and contemporary. She writes for a wide range of Australian and international publications, including Gardens Illustrated in the UK. Christine has contributed to books including The Gardener’s Garden (Phaidon, 2014) and The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2002) and wrote the Australian entries for the revised edition of The Oxford Companion to Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2006). Christine Reid initiated the ‘Out of India’ study series of lectures held at The Johnston Collection in 2014.

Image supplied by Simon Griffiths

ON FRENCH HOUSE CHIC with Jane Webster
Thursday 8 November 2018 | 10.00 am to 11.30 am

When we found a run-down chateau of Bosgouet, we'd been dreaming of buying a house in France for some time. We'd become obsessed with the idea of living in the French countryside, of learning a new language and traditions, and of giving our children a new perspective on the world. … The adventure brought us together as a family more strongly than ever, and we found a sense of harmony here in the French countryside.

In the more than ten years since Jane Webster moved her young family to France, she has spent countless hours observing French style and inspiring people to adopt a French way of life as well. This illustrated talk on French House Chic includes intimate imagery of never-before seen French houses as well as Jane’s personal introduction to suppliers, creators and stores. Be inspired by Webster's very personal and charming story of a lifetime of cultivating an eye for style and bringing it to life in their own home as well as a thoughtful depiction of French country life.

JANE WEBSTER is the author of At My French Table (2014), French Ties (2012), French House Chic (2018) and the soon to be released Chateau Life by Assouline (2018).  She spends six months in France each year where she runs cooking classes and food and wine tours. Webster runs The French Table from her magnificent home, the Château Bosgouet in Normandy. She spends six months in France each year where she organizes cultural tours and cooking classes throughout the region.

detail of illustration from French House Chic
Jane Webster published by Thames & Hudson (Australia) Pty. Ltd.