Lecture programme 2020-21

The Arts Society Paris Programme 2020-2021

These illustrated lectures are delivered in English by leading European speakers, all experts in their fields.

All lectures start at 14:00 unless otherwise stated.

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, the Arts Society Paris is unable to hold physical meetings at the Ranelagh. Until further notice, all meetings will be held online by Zoom. Instructions for joining the lecture will be sent before the meeting.

Click on the lecturer’s name to see more information (if available)

Thursday 5th November 2020


The convocation to the AGM has been sent individually to members. It is also available online: click here.


One of the best-known artists of the Dutch Golden Age, Jan Steen was a born storyteller with humorous or more serious subjects to be found among his œuvre. He was a first-rate painter with an outstanding technique.

By Jane Choy-Thurlow

Jane E. Choy-Thurlow is a docent and enjoys giving lectures and tours at the Mauritshuis, Prince William V gallery and Huygens Museum Hofwijck in The Hague, The Netherlands. A few of the many exhibits in the Mauritshuis she has been part of are: the legendary Johannes Vermeer exhibit, Rembrandt by Himself and Holbein, Portraitist of the Renaissance.

Thursday 3rd December 2020


The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, 1900 by Monet

In 1888 Gertrude Jekyll wrote a short but seminal article in The Garden in which she urged the readers to “remember that in a garden we are painting a picture”. As an accomplished watercolour artist, Miss Jekyll was familiar with the principles of using colours, but she felt that in gardens these principles “had been greatly neglected”. This talk looks at how to apply these principles in designing a border, but it also looks at the ways in which a border is different from a painting. However, it goes further than this and looks at how contemporary work of the likes of Turner, Monet, Rothko, Jackson Pollack, and Hockney evolved in parallel with ideas about what a garden or border should look like.

By Timothy Walker

Since 1986 Timothy Walker has given 1,500 public lectures. This was originally part of his work as director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden from 1988 to 2014. Botanic gardens are often described as living museums, and garden curators lecture about them in the same way as museum curators talk about their collections. Since 2014 he has been a college lecturer and tutor at Somerville College Oxford. Gardens are often thought of a place where science and art meet on equal terms. Timothy Walker’s lectures investigate this relationship.

Thursday 7th January 2021


Dublin has played a major part in the conquest by Ireland of its independence. The island was confronted by military and political struggles and the often terrible economic conditions of the island.

Dublin has always been a real European cultural capital. From the Book of Kells to U2 and Bono, along with some of the most striking literary works ever written in English, Dublin offers an endless series of aesthetic and intellectual opportunities.

By Christian Monjou

Research professor at Oxford, former laureate of the Besse Foundation, Christian Monjou is a specialist in Anglo-Saxon civilisations. He was for a long time Professor of Higher Chair in Khâgne at the Lycée Henri IV in Paris and lecturer at the École Normale Supérieure in the Rue d’Ulm.

Thursday 21st January 2021


The Watercolour World (TWW), a new online project which uses an overlooked artform to help reveal the world as it looked before photography, was launched in 2019. The Watercolour World is the brainchild of Fred Hohler. 

By Fred Hohler

Fred Hohler is the British former diplomat who founded the Public Catalogue Foundation in 2002, which photographed and published over 200,000 oil paintings in public ownership in Britain for the first time. 

Thursday 4th February 2021


George Santayana proclaimed in 1911 that US culture was a feminized backwater presided over by genteel ladies. Henry James in Daisy Miller (1878) had mocked them for their pilgrimages to Europe seeking art. Yet by the 1880s, women were founding associations as patrons of the arts. Isabella Gardner of Boston was the first to create a whole museum with 82 rooms in her own home! Louisine Havmeyer of NYC soon followed suit. Self-appointed art advisor Elsie de Wolfe, who proclaimed the Arts and Crafts movement a moralizing must, would be lampooned in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and later as Miss Piggy. Yet, thought and mission statements of many angels of culture still guide the large cultural institutions they founded: Jane Stanford’s museum in San Francisco; Abby Rockefeller for MoMA and Gertrude Vanderbilt for the Whitney. Peggy Guggenheim is a whole other story.

By Deborah Jenner

Deborah Jenner is an American-born art historian; member of College Arts Association. Residing in Paris since 1990, she has worked at the Ecole du Louvre, the Sorbonne, the Catholic Institute and the British Council. Her Doctorate thesis proved non-western influences in Georgia O’Keeffe’s art. Her publications include catalogue essays for Musée d’Orsay (New York City et l’Art modern) and Centre Pompidou (Les Traces du Sacré), scholarly papers with the research laboratory S.A.R.I. and Gallery critiques in ArtAsiaPacific, and PerformArts: Artvisuel-Artvivant. She gives public talks, guided walks and museum tours for ex-pat organizations and study-abroad programs and volunteers as an Al Gore Climate leader and JCF Round Table coordinator. She is a member of The Arts Society Paris.

Thursday 18th March 2021


This talks looks at the forgotten and misattributed pictures found in the art world which Julia and her colleagues take pride in revealing. The lecture provides clues as to how professionals go about discovering hidden gems which have long since lost their dignity or fallen into anonymity. The talk guides you through the research and examination of pictures and is rich in detail about the age of pigment, panels, canvases and frames.

By Julia Korner

Julia Korner is a specialist and lecturer in fine art conservation and the restoration of paintings, sculptures and frames. She is also a valuer, passionate collector, advisor and curator of paintings and works of art. Julia trained in art history, sculpture and graphic illustration in Cambridge, England. Then, for twenty years, she worked for Christie’s as a paintings specialist, building extensive knowledge of Old Masters, and of British, European and American paintings from the 1700s onwards. She set up Christie’s Maritime Department in 1987, followed by the Frame sales, the Aeronautical, Exploration and Travel and the Polar sales. Julia was elected Huntington Fellow of the Mariners’ Museum, Newport New, Virginia, USA, in 1997. A seven year commitment saw her catalogue this collection and of its sister organisation, the South Street Seaport Museum, New York. Julia has worked independently in her own studio in West London for almost twenty years. Here, she and her small team give specialist conservation work personal and expert attention. Damaged paintings, polychrome statues, frames, over-mantles, traditional gold leaf and gesso frames all emerge restored and transformed under her expertise, knowledge and care. Julia acts as an advisor, valuer and exhibition curator for public and private collections, in the UK and abroad. She also gives illustrated talks and lectures. She is an elected member of The British Antique Dealers’ Association, (and exhibits at the annual exhibition), The British Association of Paintings Conservator Restorers, The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars, The International Institute for Conservation, The Fine Art Trade Guild, The Maritime Information Association, The Museums Association, and The Conservation Consortium.

Thursday 8th April 2021


Photo credit : © Jean-François Tomasian – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP
© Adagp, Paris

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was a key player in early twentieth century avant garde art, design and literary/theatrical circles in Paris. As a widely travelled polymath, Dufy’s charismatic personality, wit and curiosity about the world was infectious.

His imagination and technical virtuosity – across a range of media including painting and lithography, posters, book illustration, theatrical set design, textiles and fashion, ceramics and large murals – cut across all conventional boundaries. Whether a small intricate woodcut illustrating a love poem, or the truly gigantic 1937 world fair murals depicting the role of electricity in the modern age, the effect is mesmerising.

Dufy defies categorisation, constantly innovating and experimenting with new materials and effects. His analysis of the visual world is sophisticated and joyous in equal measure. Perhaps this goes some way to explain why some later critics fail to grasp its complexity and pigeonhole him a ‘decorative artist’, or misunderstand the irony in his witty yet gentle caricatures of elegant social life.

By Mary Alexander

Thirty years’ experience as a lecturer, with a BA in History and History of Art and a MA with distinction in History of Art from University College London. Experience includes public lectures in museums, tutoring for the Open University, visiting lecturer at Christie’s Education in London, museum curator at Platt Hall, the Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Now a freelance lecturer to various arts, heritage and antiquarian societies. She also worked in Pentagram design consultancy in London and New York, organising conferences and special events. Author of various articles on design and visual awareness issues, her background combines an unusual blend of academic and visual communications skills. Lectured for ADFAS Australia and New Zealand in 2011, 2013 and 2016. Mary is an enthusiastic member and President of The Arts Society Glaven Valley.

Thursday 27th May 2021


Bach is so important in the history of music that we close down the Baroque period with his death in 1750. He is one of the most challenging of composers and rarely reveals the subtleties of his music on first or even second hearing. We shall go beneath the surface of Bach’s music to decode some of its symbolism and to highlight some of his aesthetic goals.

By Peter Medhurst

Peter Medhurst will also perform a selection of Bach’s arias and keyboard music.

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