Past

The Country House: Art, Politics and Taste

Public Lecture Course – John Goodall, Jonny Yarker, Oliver Cox, Michael Hall, Jessica Feather, Kate Retford, Martin Postle

  • 13 October to 1 December 2016
  • The course is now full. The waiting list is open and you can register by clicking the 'Book Tickets' button on this page.
  • Paul Mellon Centre

We are pleased to announce the 2016 Public Lecture Course, The Country House: Art, Politics, and Taste. The course has been developed in conjunction with the research project 'Country House: Collections and Display', and both will explore various facets of the collection and display of art in the country house in Britain and Ireland from the sixteenth century to the present day.

The Country House course will be taught by Martin Postle, Deputy Director of Grants and Publications; Jessica Feather, Allen Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre; John Goodall, Architectural Editor at Country Life magazine; Kate Retford, Head of the History of Art Department at Birkbeck College, University of London; Jonny Yarker, specialist on the Grand Tour; Oliver Cox, Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Oxford and Michael Hall, specialist on the Gothic Revival.

This year's course will run for eight lectures and will continue to be held weekly on Thursday evenings starting with an informal reception at 18.30. Lectures will then begin at 19.00 followed by a discussion session until 20.30.

The course requires some preparation on the part of the participant. Each lecture will have at most two readings, which will be provided electronically ahead of the start of the course, that participants are strongly encouraged to read in order to have some background knowledge on the topics being discussed in class each week.

As an educational charity the Paul Mellon Centre strives to promote and support academic research into the history of British Art. The Public Lecture Course, which will be free to attend, offers an exciting opportunity to broaden our audiences and to communicate the newest and most original research on British art in an engaging and accessible way.

The Country House course will take place on Thursday evenings between 13th October and 1st December 2016 in the Lecture Room at the Paul Mellon Centre.

The course syllabus is available below. The course is now full, but you can resgister onto the waiting list through Eventbrite and the button at the top of this page. The reading list will be circulated to participants in September. 

About the speakers

  • John Goodall headshot

    John Goodall is Architectural Editor of the weekly magazine Country Life and the author of several books, most recently Parish Church Treasures (2015). He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, sits on the Fabric Advisory Committees of Salisbury Cathedral, St Albans Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral. 

  • Dr Jonny Yarker has published widely on the Grand Tour including: Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth Century Rome (Yale, 2010); The English Prize, the capture of the Westmorland, an incident of the Grand Tour (Yale, 2012) and the recent exhibition: Richard Wilson (1713-82): A European Master (Yale 2014). Jonny has held academic fellowships in America, London, and most recently, Rome. He is currently working on an account of the life and activities of the banker and dealer Thomas Jenkins (1722 - 1798) entitled The Business of the Grand Tour.

  • Dr Oliver Cox is the creator of the Thames Valley Country House Partnership and a Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the University of Oxford.

  • Michael Hall is a specialist in the Gothic revival and is the author of several books on 19th-century architecture and design, including The Victorian Country House (2009) and Waddesdon Manor: The Biography of a Rothschild House (third edition, 2012).

  • Jessica Feather

    The Allen Fellow contributes to two flagship research projects being developed at the Centre. The first explores the history of the summer exhibitions at the Royal Academy in preparation for a major exhibition on this topic. The second will examine various facets of the collection and display of art in the country house in Britain and Ireland from the sixteenth century to the present day. In both cases, the Fellow will take particular responsibility for the on-line research resources for these projects.

    In addition to these responsibilities, Jessica pursues her own academic interests within the Centre’s vibrant research programme. Her PhD research focused on both challenging the received histories of watercolour, as well as the social networks of taste formation in the fin-de-siècle. In 2017 she co-authored the catalogue Places of the mind: British watercolour landscapes 1850–1950 that accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the British Museum, and was invited to act as expert curator in residence within the Prints and Drawings Department at the Courtauld Gallery. Jessica’s research interests are broad and include art historiography, art criticism, collecting and the art market.

    Jessica was previously employed as Curator of Works on Paper at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2001-9), where she was responsible for the care, acquisition, exhibition and interpretation of 8000 drawings, watercolours and prints across several venues. She curated a number of exhibitions during this period including Turner’s Journeys of the Imagination (2002) and Art Behind Barbed Wire (2004), both of which had accompanying publications. She was also the main author of British Drawings and Watercolours: Lord Leverhulme’s collection in the Lady Lever Art Gallery (2010), a fully illustrated catalogue raisonnée of around 300 eighteenth and nineteenth-century British watercolours. During this time, Jessica was a recipient of a fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art.

    Jessica has a PhD in Art History from the University of Reading for which she received a three-year AHRC scholarship. She has an MA in eighteenth-century British and French art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a BA in History from the University of Cambridge.

  • Kate Retford is Senior Lecturer and Head of the History of Art department at Birkbeck College, University of London. She has published widely on eighteenth-century British art, particularly the portraiture of the period and the country house art collection. Her work includes The Art of Domestic Life (2006) and Placing Faces: The Portrait and the English Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century, co-edited with Gill Perry et al. (2013).

  • Martin Postle

    The Deputy Director for Grants & Publications is responsible for the direction of the Centre's Grants and Fellowship programme, its publication schedule, and its Yale-in-London teaching programme. 

    Martin joined the Centre in 2007 as Assistant Director for Academic Activities, later Deputy Director of Studies, then Deputy Director for Collections & Publications. Between 1998 and 2007 he worked at Tate Gallery as Senior Curator, and was subsequently appointed 'Head of British Art to 1900'. From 1992 to 1998 he was Director of the London Centre of the University of Delaware and Associate Professor of Art History. 

    Martin holds a PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London, an MA in British Romantic Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and a BA in Art History with History from the University of Nottingham. Martin's research interests  focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British Art, including portraiture, landscape and the history of art academies. Publications include Sir Joshua ReynoldsThe Subject Pictures (Cambridge University Press 1995), Gainsborough (Tate and Princeton University Press 2002), and, with David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds. A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings (Yale University Press 2000). Among the exhibitions he has curated are The Artist's Model. Its role in British Art from Lely to Etty (Kenwood and Nottingham 1991, with Ilaria Bignamini), Angels and Urchins. The Fancy Picture in 18th-Century British Art (Kenwood and Nottingham 1998), The Artist's Model: From Etty to Spencer (Kenwood, Nottingham and York 1999, with William Vaughan), Art of the Garden. The Garden in British Art, 1800 to the Present Day (Tate Britain, Belfast and Manchester 2004, with Nicholas Alfrey and Stephen Daniels), Joshua Reynolds.The Creation of Celebrity (Tate Britain and Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara 2005), Stanley Spencer and the English Garden (Compton Verney, (Compton Verney 2011, with Steven Parissien), Johan Zoffany, RA. Society Observed (Yale Center for British Art and the Royal Academy of Arts, London 2011-2012), and Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art and the National Museum Wales, Cardiff, 2014).