Transformation as Art Ovid's Metamorphoses

  • 2 Hours each lecture
  • Starting January 2020

Venue: The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, London W1K 1DB

(map below)

Transformation as Art - Ovid's Metamorphoses - Word and Image series

If Ovid had never existed, there would be plenty of blank walls in the world’s art galleries. His masterpiece, Metamorphoses, has uniquely influenced art and literature across 2,000 years, ravishing the palettes of artists from Raphael and Titian through Velasquez, Rembrandt and Giordano to Tiepolo, Poussin and Moreau. Lives, he says wryly, will always be liable to sudden change by forces outside ourselves and of that alone can we be certain. But who is the magician?

16 Jan 2020
How Things Began, Four Ages Of Mankind, Apollo And Daphne, The Flood (Book 1)

Chaos is transformed into Earth, Giants declare war on the Gods, a king is turned into a wolf and a Flood survivor to stone while his wife miraculously creates a new race to replace the old, and a father magicks his daughter into a laurel to thwart the clutches of a god in pursuit. Bernini, Correggio, Michelangelo, Il Pollaiuolo, Poussin, Rubens and Tiepolo act as though they witnessed it all.

23 Jan 2020
Jupiter And Io, Phaethon And The Sun Chariot, The Transformation Of Callisto (Books 1 & 2)

Io is changed, changed back, and worshipped as Isis; the Sun god makes a catastrophic parenting error, the consequence verse narrative on a cosmic scale; and a sought‐after Arcadian beauty becomes first a bear and then a constellation. Far‐fetched as these things may seem, Ovid swears they happened, and so do Correggio, Michelangelo, Millet, Moreau, Rembrandt, Ricci, Tiepolo and Titian.

30 Jan 2020
Europa And The Bull, Diana And Actaeon, Semele And The Birth Of Bacchus (Books 2 & 3)

Jupiter turns himself into a bull before mating with a princess; Diana famously punishes a young hunter for stumbling on her woodland bath, and Jupiter (again) takes over a pregnancy in medically unfeasible fashion: legendary events immortalized since with relish by Boucher, Corot, Cranach, Moreau, Poussin, Rembrandt, G Romano, Ricci, Rubens, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, and Veronese.

06 Feb 2020
Echo And Narcissus, Pentheus And Bacchus, Pyramus And Thisbe (Books 3 & 4)

Sheer word‐music tells a spell‐binding love story of a nymph and a youth differently cursed and denied their desire, Bacchus wreaks mind‐blowing havoc, and Shakespeare’s future comedy lovers in A Midsummer Night’s Dream make their dramatic debut here, Alma Tadema, Caravaggio, Caxton, Cranach, Poussin, J W Waterhouse and Benjamin West on hand to tell the tales without words.

13 Feb 2020
Salmacis And Hermaphroditus, Perseus and Andromeda,The Rape Of Proserpine (Books 4 & 5)

How the first hermaphrodite became; the story of an especially erotic rescue by sea with visual ingredients any artist would kill for; and the kidnap of the spring goddess to a life spent dividing her time between Hell and the surface of the Earth. Ovid’s breathtaking accounts are here re‐worked by Bernini, Burne‐Jones, Claude, di Cosimo, Giordano, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, and Veronese.

20 Feb 2020
Arethusa, Arachne, Leda And The Swan (Books 5 & 6)

Daring to rival the gods is a signature theme here: a river‐god’s nubile prey turned into a spring which can be still be seen in Syracuse; a fabulous tapestry‐weaving tournament ends in the wondrous arachnoid transformation of the woman who challenged Minerva; Leda is covered by a swan. David, Doré, Martin, Picart, Tintoretto, Velazquez, Veronese, Verrio and R Wilson paint them.

27 Feb 2020
Niobe And Her Daughters Tereus, Procne And Philomela, Jason And Medea (Books 6 & 7)

When lust knows no bounds, a revenge to match it becomes de rigueur in one of the strongest stories of multiple transformation. A gripping Euripides drama is made new as fast‐moving episodic verse: love, wizardry and sorcery, a phalanx of dragons and a panoramic flight. Bougereau, ter Brugghen, Burne‐Jones, Cézanne, Klimt, Moreau, Raphael, Rubens, del Sarto, and Tintoretto preside.

05 Mar 2020
Eos And Cephalus, Scylla And Minos, Daedalus And Icarus, Philemon And Baucis (Books 7 & 8)

The dawn goddess weaponizes jealousy to wreck a relationship; a daughter sacrifices father and country to passion and is rescued from perilous rejection by that father transformed; Ovid tells the greatest story of human flight; and lives of devotion are enchantingly rewarded. Boucher, A Carracci, Claude, Doré, Jordaens, Moreau, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens, Watts are on the case.

12 Mar 2020
Hercules, Byblis And Her Brother, Iphis And Ianthe, Orpheus And Eurydice (Books 9 & 10)

Hercules fights the River God, is targeted by a scheming rival, dies in style, is born; a sister bewitchingly desires her brother; a tender story of transgender concealment revealed; and the most dramatically thwarted of lovers re‐enact their fate. A Carracci, Corot, Leighton, Moreau, E de Morgan, Il Padovanino, Picasso, Il Pollaiuolo, Reni, Rodin, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Veronese and Watts.

19 Mar 2020
Ganymede, Pygmalion, Death Of Orpheus,Midas, Peleus And Thetis, Ceyx And Alcyone, Battle Of Lapiths And Centaurs, Pythagoras
(Books 10-15)

A boy seized by Jupiter as an eagle; a sculptor ‘finds’ a woman; the great singer sings his last; man proves stronger than goddess; a magnificent romance complete with dream sequence and tempest; an unusual brawl at a wedding; and words of unforgettable wisdom. J Brueghel, Dürer, L Giordano, Michelangelo, Moreau, Il Parmigianino, Picasso, Poussin, Rackham, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Waterhouse

“If you have never experienced Graham Fawcett, you have missed something . . . These are big talks, packed full of imagination and research”.
Bridport Review, 2016

Full course - 10 sessions - £499.00 Single lecture £59.00

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Top picture: Diana and Actaon, tapestry, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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