Rumble Fund Lecture in Classical Art (2017)

Great Hall, King’s College, London, 15 March 2017

Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn (University of York) gave the 2017 Rumble Lecture at King’s College London on 15 March 2017. Her lecture ‘Beauty and Classical Form’ focused on the artist Frederic Leighton.

'Why do we still experience the visible forms of ancient Greek art as beautiful? It is not difficult to understand why we should find them impressive in their longevity, or informative about the ancient societies for which they were made. But why should they inspire in us the thrill of beauty? And why should they continue to do so in a modern world where the sterner values of politics, economics or social justice may seem dominant? This lecture explores the ways in which modern artists may help us not merely to understand, but genuinely to see the beauty of classical form. It takes as a test case the art of Frederic Leighton (a nineteenth-century painter so often treated with condescension as the last of the ‘academic classicists’). The lecture argues that the seriousness of Leighton’s engagement with classical form may be seen, instead, as progressive and forward-looking.'

The lecture coincided with the exhibition Flaming June: The Making of an Icon at Leighton House Museum, for which Professor Prettejohn was a contributor to the catalogue and her PhD student Ciarán Rua O'Neill was curatorial research assistant.

The annual Rumble Lecture is funded by the generosity of the Jamie Rumble Memorial Fund. It is organised by the Centre of Hellenic Studies, in collaboration with the Institute of Classical Studies and the Department of Classics at King’s College London.

View the 2017 Rumble Lecture:

Main image: Flaming June (detail), by Frederic Leighton, 1895, oil on canvas. ®Museo de Arte de Ponce/ The Luis A. Ferré Foundation. Photo (detail): Flaming June The Making of an Icon at Leighton House, ©Kevin Moran Photography

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