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Professor Stephen Bann

Slade Lectures in Fine Art 2017-18: “Scenes and Traces of the English Civil War” by Professor Stephen Bann

Tue 10 October 2017 - Tue 28 November 2017

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

The English Civil War comprised three periods of armed conflict between the royal armies and those of the Parliament. It began when King Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham on 22 August 1642, and concluded when his son, the future Charles II, was defeated at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651. This series of lectures explores the extensive visual repercussions of this formative period of English history.

The material to be considered consists, in the first instance, predominantly of ‘traces’, such as the poignant inscriptions on funerary monuments and the surviving examples of religious iconoclasm. Over the span of 250 years that follows, however, the record is supplemented to an increasing degree by the depiction of visual ‘scenes’ from the war, chiefly in the form of prints at the outset, but culminating in large-scale historical genre paintings over the nineteenth century.

The first lecture begins by looking at the different ways in which the events of the Civil War are still commemorated in the townscape of the present day, before focusing on noteworthy memorials in a range of English cathedrals and churches: in particular, an poetic inscription that muses on the death of a Cotswold clothier, the defaced tomb of a parliamentary commander’s wife and a belated act of devotion to a young Royalist officer.

The second lecture focuses specifically on one county and one family. The Bargrave family of East Kent provides a full spectrum of different figures caught up in the war and its aftermath: a defiant cleric, a defeated soldier and, in particular, a scholar and traveller who came to view his collection of ‘curiosities’ as his legacy.

In the third lecture, the changing fortunes of Le Sueur’s statue of King Charles at Charing Cross are shown to illustrate shifting perceptions of the historical significance of the war, as conveyed in particular by two poems dating from the 1660s and the final years of the nineteenth century.

The fourth lecture considers the memory of the war as it affected the dominant Whig governing class of the eighteenth century, looking in particular at Horace Walpole’s conflicted attitude to the past, and also involving the attitude taken by one of Cromwell’s direct descendants. Throughout this century, the war was in the process of being fully documented by the publication of authoritative historical works, ranging from Clarendon to Rapin-Thoyras and Hume.

The fifth lecture examines the influence of these written texts on the development of visual narratives, from the early attempts to portray the future Charles II’s flight after the Battle of Worcester to the illustrated edition of Hume, which incorporates images of Cromwell’s domestic life. With the coming of the nineteenth century, civil war subjects rise to the fore in academic painting as the vogue for neoclassical subject matter begins to decline.

As explained in the sixth lecture, the Royal Academician James Ward is commissioned to paint a record of one of Cromwell’s earliest victories. His research into the original military costumes of the period then becomes of immediate benefit to the French painter Paul Delaroche whose Cromwell and Charles I achieves international fame at the Paris Salon of 1831. The Anglo-French connection is further strengthened by the patronage of the Duke of Sutherland and his brother Lord Francis Egerton, who are aware of the part played by their ancestors in the conflicts of the seventeenth century.

The seventh lecture looks, in particular, at the crucial role of Lord Francis in commissioning Charles I Mocked, and explains Delaroche’s decision to employ Dutch genre painting a model for his composition.

In the eighth lecture, Civil War pictorial subjects from the mid-nineteenth century onwards are shown to have been prompted by a range of different motivations: Augustus Egg by a profound identification with Delaroche which seemingly comes across in his Night before Naseby; Ford Madox Brown by an admiration for Carlyle’s revisionist view of Cromwell that manifest itself in Cromwell on his farm, and an evident concern for the public significance of the city’s Civil War history which infuses his murals for the Manchester Town Hall. Yeames’s notorious And when did you last see your father? testifies to the widespread awareness of the period acquired by way of contemporary historical novels, while Ernest Crofts is the last Civil War painter to base his scene firmly on the historical record.

Lecure series titles: Scenes and Traces of the English Civil War:

Tuesday 10 October: “Speaking Stones: Inscriptions of Identity from Civil War Monuments”

Tuesday 17 October: “A Kentish Family in Wartime: The Bargraves of Bifrons”

Tuesday 24 October: “Kings on Horseback: Charles I's Statue at Charing Cross and its Afterlife”

Tuesday 31 October: “Whig Views of the Past: Horace Walpole and Co.”

Tuesday 7 November: “Illustrating History: Visual Narratives from the Restoration to Hume's History of England”

Tuesday 14 November: “Boots and All: Cromwell evoked by James Ward and Paul Delaroche”

Tuesday 21 November: “French Genre for English Patrons: Paul Delaroche's Strafford and Charles I Mocked”

Tuesday 28 November: “A Sense of an Ending: from Pre-Raphaelites to Problem Pictures”

Cost: Entry is free of charge, no need to book

Ages: Adults

Enquiries and booking

Booking is optional.

Entry is free of charge and no need to book

Enquiries: France Davies Website Email: fc295@cam.ac.uk Telephone: 01223 (3)32975


All times

Tue 10 October 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 17 October 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 24 October 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 31 October 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 7 November 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 14 November 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 21 November 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM
Tue 28 November 2017 5:00PM - 6:00PM


Address: Mill Lane Lecture Rooms
Lecture Room 3
8 Mill Lane