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DateLecture
17 February 2020Cleopatra: the inspiration for painters, poets and film-makers
16 March 2020Cities of Vesuvius: Art and Everyday Life in Ancient Pompeii.
20 April 2020The Art of Rabindranath Tagore: renowned poet, novelist, composer and painter.
18 May 2020Women Behind the Lens
15 June 2020Great Railway Stations - evoking the spirit of romance and adventure of train travel.
21 September 2020Art and Architecture in Docklands
19 October 2020Hogarth's Progress: His Life, Times and London

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Cleopatra: the inspiration for painters, poets and film-makers Lucy Hughes-Hallett Monday 17 February 2020

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio - which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award - and of Cleopatra and Heroes. Her novel, Peculiar Ground was described as 'almost Tolstoyan in its sly wit and descriptive brilliance' (The Guardian) and 'full of drama, vivid characters, wit, gorgeous writing and fascinating detail’. (New York Times)

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has reviewed for all of the UK’s serious newspapers and for Radio 3’s Night Waves, judged five literary prizes, and spoken at numerous literary festivals. She teaches Creative Writing at Arcadia University and at Arvon.   

Cleopatra, the woman for whose love’s sake Antony is imagined to have given up the chance to rule the Roman world, has been inspiring painters, poets and (more recently) film-makers for over two millennia. Their gorgeously voluptuous depictions of her offer insights into changing concepts of beauty, and into the racial and sexual assumptions underlying them.  Showing images ranging from Roman portrait busts, through medieval illuminations, the glorious works of Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, the splendour of Tiepolo and the exoticism of Gustave Moreau to 20th century film stars (Theda Bara, Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor and the Carry On team’s Amanda Barry). This lecture will show how Cleopatra became a screen icon onto which artists have projected their wildly differing fantasies about exotic danger and erotic bliss.