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Telling Tales: Myths And Legends, Facts And Fictions Story-Telling In European Art

7 February 2023 - 14 March 2023

10.45 – 12.45 Tuesdays

£66.00 – £330.00

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The Reader, c.1770, Jean-Honore Fragonard


Story-telling is a key component of human culture. This series of illustrated lectures will look at some of the many different traditions of narration that have pervaded the art of the West since its inception, addressing the universal stories of myth, religion and history, as well as the innumerable personal and private stories of individuals.

“Please convey my huge admiration and gratitude to Andrew for the lecture this week. It was fascinating, wide-ranging and so informative. Brilliant! I had no idea when I signed up for this course that the lectures would be so multi-faceted and would inform and guide us across the vast sweep of human history in a digestible way!”

Course Outline

07 Feb 2023 – Classical Mythology  

Pagan stories have pervaded western art since their origins in antiquity. This lecture will explore the many ways in which the loves and misdemeanours of the gods and goddesses of the ancient world fuelled the imagination in subsequent centuries, up to the present day.

14 Feb 2023 – The Old Testament: Samson, Moses, Daniel and Others

Paradoxically, the scriptures of the Jewish faith are central to the Christian tradition. Here we will address the integral contribution that Old Testament stories – from the Creation of the World to Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – have made to European art.

21 Feb 2023 – The New Testament in The Middle Ages

For 2000 years, the narratives of the New Testament, especially the four gospels, have dominated European art. This lecture addresses this tradition, exploring which stories were popular and when, looking at sources that range from cycles of illuminated miniatures in manuscripts, to monumental programmes of stained glass and wall painting in churches as well as the adapting fortunes of Christian narratives in modern and contemporary art.

28 Feb 2023 – Secular Tales of Chivalry and Romance

Love stories emerged in the Middle Ages, and have remained a key theme in European art. We will address stories of love and romance in European art.

07 March 2023 – Stories of the Future: Visions, Prophesies and Revelations in the Visual Arts

The arts have offered mystics and prophets a medium through which to visualise inner experiences, leading to a tradition of fantastical imagery that ranges from the Book of Revelation to Dante’s Divine Comedy and beyond, culminating in a number of extraordinary contemporary manifestations.

 14 March 2023 – The Telling of History in the Visual Arts

Historical subjects have been visualised in the arts since antiquity. This lecture will address the ways in which history has been used to promote views of religion society and power over two millennia.


7 February 2023
14 March 2023
£66.00 – £330.00
Course Category:


Andrew Spira
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