Paris is always lovely, but this spring I decided to cross the English Channel for my latest lecture series, a move that has surprised those who know my work on French painting. My roots in British art actually go back to my undergraduate years, when I spent a few summers in Oxford. London, a short coach ride away, offered total immersion in British painting—in addition to the equally exciting possibility of a Princess Diana sighting!
Back in the days when there was only one Tate, I discovered the landscapes of J.M.W. Turner in all their glory, the portraits of Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, and the strange world of the Pre-Raphaelites. At the time, I had no idea that I would become an art historian and have a career at the Met, let alone co-curate the Museum's retrospective exhibition on Turner in 2008.
Beginning on March 18, my new, six-part lecture series, Rule, Britannia! British Painting from Hogarth to the Pre-Raphaelites, will focus on the emergence of a British school of painting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with an emphasis on its innovations in portraiture and landscape. In preparing my lectures, I have been enjoying revisiting old favorites like William Hogarth and Turner with an eye to incorporating the latest scholarship in the field. And, as always, I try to highlight works in the Met's collection while also having a little fun in the process. You know that there will be at least one reference to Mike Leigh's sublime film Mr. Turner in my talk, and, good timing, Kate and William—the upcoming royal birth might even give us a chance to consider one additional royal portrait.
I hope you will join me for Rule, Britannia!, and follow me on Instagram to catch a few sneak peeks into the paintings I will discuss before each lecture!
To purchase tickets to the Rule, Britannia! series, or any other Met Museum Presents event, visit www.metmuseum.org/tickets; call 212-570-3949; or stop by the Great Hall Box Office, open Monday–Saturday, 11:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.