Wednesday 24 April 2024
GEORGE VILLERS, DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM – THE HANDSOMEST MAN IN THE 17TH CENTURY AND HIS PATRONAGE OF THE ARTS
Presented by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Held at the Hove Club, doors open at 6.45pm. The lecture starts promptly at 7.30pm. A licensed bar is available.
Entry is free to ASES members/£10 for visitors (strictly by prior arrangement: a maximum of two visits per year, contact Membership Secretary for further information and to register as a visitor
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, was the favourite of King James I - who addressed him as ‘my sweet child and wife’ - and subsequently chief minister to King Charles I. Buckingham was a beauty, and he surrounded himself with beautiful things. He enjoyed exquisite clothes, like the fabulous white silk suit encrusted with diamonds that he wore to visit the Queen of France. He was a superb dancer. When he cut capers during a court masque King James startled visiting ambassadors by shouting out ‘By God, George, I love you!’ He was a discerning patron. Inigo Jones renovated his houses. John Tradescant was his garden designer. In his great house on the Strand he put together a collection of art works as fine as King Charles’s.
At the age of 35 Buckingham was murdered. His collection was scattered, but contemporary inventories allow us to reconstruct it. I will show you some of the magnificent paintings he owned - the Titians, the Tintorettos, the Veroneses. But Buckingham was not just a collector of old masters: he was also a patron, commissioning boldly innovative new work. Most remarkable are the portraits of himself that he commissioned from painters including Van Honthorst, Van Dyck and Rubens – images by great artists of a man known as ‘the handsomest-bodied man in Europe’.
About the Lecturer
Lucy Hughes-Hallett is a cultural historian and biographer. Her book on Gabriele d’Annunzio, The Pike, was described in The Sunday Times as ‘the biography of the decade’. It won all three of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for non-fiction - the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award. Her other non-fiction books include Cleopatra and Heroes.
She also writes fiction. Her novel, Peculiar Ground, is largely set in the 17th century, and narrated by a landscape designer loosely based on the great diarist John Evelyn. It 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). In her short story collection, Fabulous, she retells fables from classical mythology, relocating them to modern Britain.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Historical Association, she has written on books, theatre and the visual arts for publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The New Statesman and the TLS. She was Chair of the Judges for the 2021 International Booker Prize.
Further details of this and future lectures can be found on our website: https://www.eastsussexarts.org.uk
Contact Membership Secretary for further information or for visitor registration:
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For further information on lectures, visits and tours go to: www.eastsussexarts.org.uk
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