Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

By Guy Rooker FRCS

Study for the Kneeling Leda at Chatsworth

Guy Rooker’s background, perhaps unusually for an Arts Society Lecturer, is not in the Arts but the world of science in general and surgery in particular. He describes himself as a retired orthopaedic surgeon with a lifelong passion, fascination and admiration for the work of Leonardo da Vinci. He considers Leonardo’s contribution to the world of Art and the investigation of scientific concepts to be quite unique and extraordinary; so many of his pioneering investigations have contributed to the understanding of our world today.

This study day focuses on Leonardo da Vinci, painter and draughtsman of the High Renaissance, whose works were informed by scientific investigation. The structure of the day consists of three sequential lectures covering his life and works.

Leonardo, who had no formal education, observed the world closely describing nature as his teacher. He believed that art was based on a scientific interpretation of everything depicted.

Leonardo’s productivity as an artist was poor with less than twenty paintings in his working lifetime a number of which remain unfinished. These will be reviewed together with his compositional approach, depth of image, experimentation with traditional methods of representation, and techniques of tenebrism, sfumato and chiaroscuro.

Leonardo believed that art was based on a scientific understanding of everything depicted and that accurate representation depended on him getting under the skin and into the mind of his subjects. He also believed that the hand could be as expressive as the face and acknowledged that this was the organ through which an artist expressed himself.  He was the first to produce extraordinarily accurate drawings of human anatomy which form the basis of all modern medical practice.

Leonardo used his talents of draughtsmanship and astute sense of observation in his scientific drawings making an incredible contribution to our early understanding of anatomy, cartography, warfare, flight, and engineering to name but a few. It would take centuries of scientific investigation and technology to catch up with his thoughts.

Leonardo would not have been able to achieve so much had he been born earlier.  He was the right man in the right place at the right time.  He was justifiably described by Kenneth Clarke as the most relentlessly curious man of all time.

Click here to download an application form which you can print off and complete by hand or complete on the computer first if you prefer.

Virgin and Child with St Anne
The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist


by Brian Healey

22nd APRIL 2020

Brian Healey has been a senior modern languages teacher in an independent grammar school for many years. He has enjoyed a successful parallel career as a professional artist and interior designer. Since 2006 he has been regularly appointed to several prestigious ocean and river cruise lines, either as resident artist, guest lecturer on art history or as destination speaker for more than 40 countries. Most recently this work has successfully extended to art guiding through important towns and museums in France, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Portugal.

Lecture 1: “From Warehouse to Palazzo”
In the 19th Century “Cottonopolis” as Manchester was known, grew like topsy, making vast fortunes for both the city and its merchants. This lecture shows how architects, including Barry and Waterhouse vied with each other to bring the architecture of Athens, the Renaissance and the Grand Canal to the city’s streets, embellishing their facades with allegory and symbolism.

Lecture 2: “Town Hall Triumphant”- Civic Pride & Commercial Swagger
This looks at the story behind the building of the magnificent Town Hall, described by many as the last great neo-gothic building of the 19th century. It looks at the competing designs, the battle to build it, the decoration and sculpture and the personalities behind some of the key figures.

Lecture 3: “Boom Bust and Baroque”
We conclude our story with the final glittering chapter, beginning with the battle to build the Ship Canal. From the Byzantine detail of Waterhouse’s Refuge building to the cathedral-like space of the John Ryland’s library, everything spoke of wealth and confidence, not least the Cotton Exchange itself, rebuilt on a massive scale. By 1918 however, the world had changed for ever and the star that was Manchester’s cotton trade was already on the wane.

Click here to download an application form which you can print off and complete by hand or complete on the computer first if you prefer.