Watson Gordon Lecture (Scottish National Gallery) : Helen Langdon | Caravaggio, the Caravaggisti and Cupid


  • Thursday, November 24, 2016 - 18:00 to 19:30

The Annual Watson Gordon Lecture is part of our History of Art Research Seminar series. All MSc students in History of Art are expected to attend this lecture, which will take place in the Scottish National Gallery (Hawthornden Lecture Theatre).

Richard Thomson (Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art) will chair Dr Helen Langdon (formerly Assistant Director of the British School at Rome, writer, scholar, and curator), who will be speaking on "Caravaggio, the Caravaggisti and Cupid".

Caravaggio's astonishingly naturalistic and provocative Cupid Victorious hung in the palace of a famous family at the heart of 17th-century Rome. This lecture explores how the artist, famed for his originality, created a balance between a suggestion of his own world (and in the surrounding neighbourhood he and his models and supporters played a lively role in a rowdy street life) and a complex and ambiguous response to both ancient and Renaissance art and literature. It suggests too the challenge the painting threw out to contemporary painters, whose world was characterised by extreme and bitter rivalries; often they reject his irony, sometimes embellish the painting's sexuality, and at others convey an opposing sense of the harmony of the arts.

About the Watson Gordon Lecture

Sir John Watson Gordon was a portrait painter and President of the Royal Scottish Academy. Eight years after his death in 1864, his siblings Henry and Frances endowed The Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh.

The annual Watson Gordon Lecture was established following the 125th anniversary of the endowment and marks the long-standing collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and National Galleries of Scotland. Previous speakers include Robert Storr (Yale School of Art), David Bomford (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), and Hal Foster (Princeton University).

The current Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art is Professor Richard Thomson. An expert in late nineteenth century art, with particular expertise in French art, Richard teaches on our MA programme and on our MSc course on Impressionism and the Third Republic.