If you’ve not experienced Paul Glenshaw’s daytime series Art + History, in which he examines great works of art in their historical context, now’s your chance. He reprises four of his most popular lectures in livestreamed evening programs through July and August. In each, he delves into the time of the artist, explores the present they inhabited, and what shaped their vision and creations, bringing the art and their creators to vivid life. Even if you’ve taken part in previous programs, you’ll find new insights in joining Glenshaw for another look at these timeless works.
JUL 27 Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley
The epic story of John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark spans the globe from Havana to Boston to London. Drawing on biblical and classical sources, the artist recreated a dramatic, life-threatening moment from the experience of a young sailor, depicting both a place and a sea creature he had never seen. What brought this expatriate American painter living in London during the American War of Independence together with Brook Watson, who commissioned the work? Explore the interwoven stories of Copley and Watson from their lives as children in Boston Harbor, to the commission by Watson (later Lord Mayor of London) of the painting that made Copley's reputation.
AUG 10 The Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint Gaudens
The African American soldiers of the Massachusetts 54th in Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial stride confidently toward battle for a cause they are willing to die for—freedom. Almost half the members of the Massachusetts 54th, including their white commanding officer, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, would be killed in the July 1863 attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina. The original memorial stands in Boston Common, with a plaster version on display at the National Gallery. Saint-Gaudens took great pains to make sure each solider was a portrait. Who were the Massachusetts 54th and Colonel Shaw? What brought them together? How was the Civil War—and these soldiers in particular—being remembered in 1897 when the memorial was unveiled?
AUG 24 The Railway by Edouard Manet
A young woman stares out from the canvas, seated on a ledge in front of an iron rail. A puppy sits on her lap. A young girl next to her faces the opposite direction, seemingly staring at a huge cloud of water vapor from a passing train in the rail yard below. When The Railway was first seen, Manet had once again presented high-minded Parisians with a truly modern scene of an everyday passing moment. Why were his works such radical departures in French painting? What did this scene represent, only three years after the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870? Glenshaw returns to northwest Paris and the Gare Saint-Lazare to explore Manet’s city and its changing times.
AUG 31 The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin
In Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais, completed in 1889, six massive figures turn and twist among themselves. They are barefoot and clad in draping robes, chained, and hold massive keys. Their faces depict stages of courage, fear, despair, and resolution. Why did August Rodin take on the creation of a monument to these French town leaders, who offered themselves in sacrifice to the English King Edward III almost 550 years before? Who were the burghers and why did they give themselves over to die? How did Rodin produce such a departure from conventional memorials to national heroes?
Glenshaw leads a virtual visit to the cast of the memorial at the Hirshhorn Museum’s Sculpture Garden and travels back in time to the unveiling of Rodin’s epic and controversial sculpture, to the studio where he created it, and to 14th-century Calais and the moment of the burghers’ sacrifice.
Glenshaw is an artist, educator, author, and filmmaker with more than 30 years' experience working across disciplines in the arts, history, and sciences.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.
Photo caption (upper right): Clockwise: "Watson and the Shark" by John Singleton Copley, 1778 (National Gallery of Art); Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Photo: Paul Glenshaw); Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais, (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden ( Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: “150 Works of Art” (1996) by Valerie Fletcher); "The Railway", 1873 by Edouard Manet (National Gallery of Art)
World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit each*
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