Beautiful Ruins: Turner’s Venice

By the end of the 18th century Venice, the great empire, had begun to fall into ruin. The once coveted sophistication and ordered oligarchy admired across Europe (especially in Britain) was a shell of itself in the wake of its fall to Napoleon in 1797. So, begins the Romantic era in Venice. This was an era that revelled in the decay of old political systems, an era filled with artists challenging traditional notions of power and saw beauty in their ruin. This lecture looks at the work of JMW Turner and his inspiration, the poet Lord Byron. It will explain and explore what Venice meant to them, how they saw beauty in its downfall while maintaining the concept of its elegant sophistication.

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Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. Sarah is currently a lecturer at the University of Arts London and Coordinator for City Lit’s Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah’s current research is focused on translation and empathy.

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