Upcoming events for the PRS are as follows:

24 March 2018

Lecture by Thomas Hughes – ‘The Rose and The Worm: – Ruskin, Pater and ‘Realism’ in Nineteenth Century Painting’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Describing the landscape painting of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), Ruskin develops a theory of a kind of ‘realism’ that combines the conventional nineteenth-century meaning of representing contemporary social reality with Romantic ‘imagination’. Ruskin’s ‘realism’ confronts modernity in Turner’s painting as industrial capitalism in England but rejects this modernity, bringing about the collapse of Ruskin’s whole idea about the place of painting and beauty in society, and the rose is consumed by the worm. Pater takes up Ruskin’s imaginative ‘realism’ and constructs a theory of the painting of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) in which Ruskin’s icons of the rose and the worm are combined into a ambiguous and beautiful Aestheticism in which history and modernity coexist.

Thomas Hughes is completing his PhD thesis on John Ruskin, Walter Pater and Aestheticism at The Courtauld Institute of Art supervised by Professor Caroline Arscott. His thesis argues that some important art historical processes occurred in the language that came to be used to describe art and considers the intense continuities between Ruskin, Pater and Aestheticism in nineteenth-century art and culture. He has given papers at the universities of Lancaster, Cardiff, Rennes 2 and NYU Florence and at The Courtauld.

28 April 2018

Lecture by Dr Nic Peeters – ‘Evelyn De Morgan in Italy: A journey in the footsteps of a Pre-Raphaelite Artist inspired by the Quattrocento’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Pre-Raphaelite artist Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) first travelled to Italy in 1875. It was the start of a life-long love affair with a country and its art that ended when she departed from Venice for the last time in the spring of 1914. Between those two dates Evelyn stayed in Italy countless times to study its paintings, mainly of the early Renaissance, and to create her own. In his talk Dr. Nic Peeters will guide you to Evelyn’s favourite Italian treasures in cities such as Florence, Rome, Assisi and Venice. On this journey, he will explain what Evelyn learned from Botticelli and his contemporaries and how she translated all of it into her very personal, mesmerising form of Pre-Raphaelitism. This talk is largely based on letters and other documents written by the artist, her friends and members of her family. It is profusely illustrated with images of Evelyn’s own work, Italian Renaissance art and exclusive Victorian as well as modern photographs.

Dr. Nic Peeters is an independent art historian and curator from Antwerp in Belgium. He is Northern Europe Correspondent for the British Art Journal and a regular book/exhibition reviewer for the PRS Review. He has published and lectured extensively on the art of the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers. His main research interests are Victorian feminism and spiritualism and their impact on art. In 2009, he was awarded a PhD from the University of Brussels (VUB) for a thesis on the images of witches in late Pre-Raphaelite painting and the innovative influence thereon of the artist Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919). Dr. Peeters has been a member of the PRS for more than fifteen years.

26 May 2018

Lecture by Michael Fisher – ‘Guarding the Pugin Flame: John Hardman Powell, 1827-1895’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

The premature death of A.W.N. Pugin (1812-1852) created a huge vacuum in the realm of Gothic-Revival art and design, but this was more than adequately filled by John Hardman Powell (1827-1895), Pugin’s one-and-only pupil, who at the age of sixteen, had gone to live in the Pugin household at Ramsgate. In 1850 Powell married Pugin’s eldest daughter, Anne (1832-1897), and moved back to Birmingham and stepped into his late Master’s shoes as chief designer for the Birmingham firm of John Hardman & Co., manufacturers of metalwork and stained glass for Pugin and for architects influenced by him. Though rigorously trained by Pugin, Powell had a free-spirited artistic temperament, which, infused with Pugin’s ‘True Principles’ of medieval art and design, led him to apply them in innovative and imagining ways. Powell and his family were prominent members of St. Chad’s, Birmingham and he was a founder member of the Birmingham School of Art.

Researched from newly discovered original sources, this lecture examines Powell’s rich legacy of stained glass and metalwork which is still to be enjoyed in cathedrals, churches and great houses across the United Kingdom and overseas and the ideas which shaped it.

Michael Fisher FSA is the author of several books on the life and works of A.W.N. Pugin, whose bicentenary he commemorated in Gothic For Ever! (Spire Books 2012). He currently serves on the Fabric Committee of St. Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham and the Alton Towers Heritage Committee. Ordained to the (Anglican) priesthood in 1979, he is now retired from parochial ministry. His latest book Guarding the Pugin Flame, was launched at St. Chad’s Cathedral in March 2016.

16 June 2018

Lecture by Dr Sally Anne Huxtable – ‘The Drama of the Soul: The Art And Design of Phoebe Anna Traquair 1852-1936’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Born in Dublin in 1852, Phoebe Anna Traquair settled in Edinburgh in 1874 after her marriage to palaeontologist, Ramsey Traquair whom she met whilst still at art school when he commissioned her to draw fossil fish for his research. After her move to Edinburgh Traquair became immersed in the cultural scene of the city, developing collaborative friendships with figures as diverse as the architect-designer Robert Lorimer, Socio-Biologist and reformer Patrick Geddes, Grace Warrack, translator of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, and Celtic Revival poet and occultist William Sharpe (better known as Fiona McLeod). This wide range of friendships and collaborations reflects the incredible diversity of the influences upon Traquair’s work, and the astonishing breadth and complexity of her output during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Using the collections of National Museums Scotland, as well as Traquair’s murals and works in other collections, this lecture will explore some of the ideas and movements that inspired Traquair, including the Pre-Raphaelitism and Victorian Medievalism, Walter Pater and Renaissance Neoplatonism, the works of Dante Alighieri and William Blake, contemporary scientific theories, Christian Mysticism, and the socialist ideals of Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement. It will examine the ways in which these influences were manifested in her work, as well as the incredible diversity of her artistic practice which encompassed oil painting, watercolours, murals, bookbinding, illuminated manuscripts, enamels and embroideries.

Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable is Editor of the Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society, as well as Principal Curator of Modern & Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland, where in 2016, she curated the permanent Gallery Design for Living, which, for the first time, brings together together the museum’s collection of works by Phoebe Anna Traquair. Sally formerly lectured in History of Art and Design at the Universities of Northumbria and Bristol, and previously worked at Dallas Museum of Art, Tate Britain and the De Morgan Centre. Sally has published widely on nineteenth and early twentieth art and design, as well as contemporary receptions of Victorian and Edwardian visual and material culture. She is currently working on a book on Steampunk art & design for Bloomsbury for 2020, and exhibition projects on both Steampunk and Phoebe Anna Traquair for National Museums Scotland.

21 July 2018

Visit to Biddulph Old Hall, Stoke on Trent – Depart by coach from Colmore Row, Birmingham at 10.00 a.m.

Biddulph Old Hall is the historic home of the Biddulph family from which the town gets its name. The inhabited house was originally a small single cell hunting lodge which was developed into the family’s principal residence, part-stone, part-timber framed. Around 1530, a new mansion was commenced alongside the existing manor, and this was described as “Mr Biddulph’s Fair New House of Stone” in contemporary accounts. The house had the involvement or influence of Robert Smythson in its architecture. The Biddulphs were Recusant Catholics and so by about 1580 were being fined heavily so work stopped. No further development was achieved before the house was caught up in a siege during the English Civil War in February 1644, after which it was brought to ruin. The family never rebuilt the new mansion, instead restoring the earlier house which still survives today.

The house was sold out of the family for the first time in 1861, when it was bought by James Bateman, the creator of the famous gardens at Biddulph Grange, now in the care of the National Trust. His youngest son Robert created a studio there, and from 1871 had a lifetime tenancy on the house, painting many of his best known works in the house. Many of his artistic circle visited. During the 20th century the house slowly slipped into disrepair but has been restored by Nigel Daly and Brian Vowles, who have also created a Briar Rose garden within the remaining upstanding ruins. Restoration has now been completed on Robert Bateman’s studio. We will be treated to a tour of the house by the owner Nigel Daly with tea and cakes after the tour and free time to explore.

Please note:

  • Admission for all regular lectures is charged at £8.00 – (rising to £9.00 from April 2018) – there is no admission charge for our Founder’s Day lecture.

  • Pre-booking for all lectures is strongly advised – venues have limited seating capacity and if you attend without pre-booking you risk being turned away.

  • The Society reserves the right to allocate lecture applications on a first-come, first-served basis where demand for places exceeds venue capacity.

  • The Society reserves the right to cancel, alter, or postpone any events, as it may consider expedient or necessary.

  • Members are reminded that they should have adequate personal and travel insurance cover when attending any Society event.

  • Disclaimer Participation in any event is entirely at your own risk. The Society cannot accept any liability for injury, loss, or damage, however caused.

  • For a booking form or for any questions concerning an event please email

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Past Events

27 January 2018

Lecture by Dr. Katie Faulkner – ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Pre-Raphaelitism is intrinsically linked to the detailed and luminous paintings of Rossetti, Millais and Holman Hunt, but can we also see Ruskin’s principles of ‘truth to nature’ in sculpture in the 1840’s and 50’s? This lecture will introduce some of the sculptors associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood such as Thomas Woolner, Alexander Munro, John Lucas Tupper and John Hancock and explores how their work intersects with Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics and subject matter.

Dr. Katie Faulkner is a lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art and at Arcadia University in London. She is also widening participation and academic skills coordinator at The Courtauld. She is currently working on a book project on the boundaries between sculpture and performance in the nineteenth century, and also has forthcoming publications focusing on sculpture and the decorative arts, as well as performance and masculinity in Victorian photography. She has recently published articles on the sculptors Hamo Thornycroft, Gilbert Bayes and the painting and sculpture of G.F. Watts.

17 February 2018

Lecture by Brendan Flynn – ‘The Gaskins – An Arts and Crafts Partnership’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Trained at Birmingham School of Art, Arthur and Georgie Gaskin became leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK. Arthur was one of the first tempera revival painters, while Georgie specialised in exquisite hand-made jewellery. Both were talented book illustrators in the Pre-Raphaelite style. This talk explores their creative relationship and development of their work.

Brendan Flynn was Keeper of Fine Art and later Senior Curator of Visual Art at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. In 1998, he was appointed Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where he developed the Pre-Raphaelite, Modern British and Contemporary International Art Collections. He retired in 2012 and is now working as a freelance curator and lecturer.

Events from 2017

21 January 2017: Lecture by Helen Bratt Wyton – “Hidden Wightwick and the Acquisition of its Collection”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

25 February 2017: Lecture by Dr. Lucy Ella Rose – “Evelyn De Morgan: The Metamorphic Mermaid”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.
18 March 2017: Lecture by Wendy Holborow – “Work: Forward Motion”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.
22 April 2017: Visit to Biddulph Old Hall, Stoke-on-Trent with tour by owner Nigel Daly.

13 May 2017: Lecture by Patrick Baty – “The Artists of the Artists Rifles”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.

24 June 2017: Lecture by Colin Cruise – “The Cloister and the Laboratory: Rossetti between the Past and the Present”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.

29 July 2017: Lecture by Dr Ayla Lepine – “Pre-Raphaelite Religon and Religious Pre-Raphaelites”. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.

23 September 2017: Visit to Standen House and Garden, East Grinstead, West Sussex – by coach from Central Birmingham.

21 October 2017: AGM – Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day Lecture titled ‘The Neo Pre-Raphaelites: Taking Pre-Raphaelitism into the 21st Century’ with Dr. Anne Anderson. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.

11 November 2017: Lecture by Dr. Peter Bryden – ‘Social Realism and Victorian Art’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham.

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Events from 2016

16 January 2016: Lecture by Dr Jordan Kistler – ‘Arthur O’Shaughnessy: A Pre-Raphaelite Poet in the British Museum’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

13 February 2016: Private tour by Dennis Lanigan of the exhibition ‘Beauty’s Awakening: Drawings by the Pre‐Raphaelites and Their Contemporaries from the Lanigan Collection’, Leighton House, London.

28 February 2016: London and Southern Group Book Club- reading Jan Marsh’s ‘The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal’. Venue: The basement of Costa Coffee, 112 Southampton Row, London., 2p.m.

19 March 2016: Lecture by Dr. Robyne Calvert – ‘The Myth of Pre-Raphaelite Dress’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

2 April 2016: London and Southern Group- A guided walk of Pre-Raphaelite Bloomsbury. Venue: Starting in Red Lion Square and finishing with a picnic and poetry reading in Russell Square.

23 April 2016: Lecture by Professor Anna Gruetzner-Robins – ‘Remembering Rossetti’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

21 May 2016: Visit to the exhibition ‘Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman’ Venue: Watts Gallery Compton, Surrey.

22 May 2016: London and Southern Group Book Club- TBC on February members’ vote. Venue: The basement of Costa Coffee, 112 Southampton Row, London., 2p.m.

25 June 2016: Lecture by Julia Dudkiewicz – ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Kelmscott Manor (1871-1874): An Examination of The Marigolds (1874) and Rossetti’s Possessions Left at Kelmscott’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

23 July 2016: Lecture by Claire Yearwood Munn – ‘Mirrors in Pre-Raphaelite Art’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

September 2016: Lecture by Dr Fiona Mann ‘Edward Burne-Jones and Watercolour Painting 1857-1898’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street.

29 October 2016: Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture by Dr Serena Trowbridge – ‘The Poetry of Elizabeth Siddal’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – AGM starts at 10.30 a.m. with lecture at 12.00 p.m.

19 November 2016: Lecture by Dr Angie Dunstan – ‘‘Shaping the Invisible Sculptor’: The Life’s Work of Thomas Woolner PRB RA.’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute.

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