Cavendish Decorative and Fine Arts Society

The Art Society Cavendish



Study day visit to Farne Islands




WREN CHURCHES – 9th October 2018

There are still places available if you wish to attend.

Iran: Land of Great Kings, Shahs and Ayatollahs

By John Osborne

Whitworth Centre, Darley Dale, DE4 2EQ on Tuesday 10 April 2018 between 10.00am and 3.00pm.

Parking and Disabled parking and facilities are available

The cost is £38 per person and will include coffee and a buffet lunch.

Iran has a sophisticated cultural heritage ignored in the headlines. The first part of John Osborne’s study day introduces the geographical, political and religious background, and explains how the Shi’a form of Islam originated and became the ruling creed in the late 20th century of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The second part illustrates the rich and mighty Persian Empire founded by Cyrus the Great which was contemporary with classical Greece and ruled by Great Kings such as Darius and Xerxes. Their royal palace at Persepolis, destroyed by Alexander the Great, has monumental architectural remains and a wealth of relief sculpture which reveals the ethos of the Persian empire and the symbolism of kingship.

The third part of the study day traces the development of architecture in the mosques and palaces of Iran, with an emphasis on their brilliant tilework and painting, through the Islamic period until the end of the 19th century. It includes the splendid buildings of Shah Abbas’ early 17th century Isfahan, some of Persia’s classic gardens, and the art of book illustration with beautiful examples from the classic period of Persian miniature painting and literature.


Double Dutch Symbols, Emblems and ‘Double-entendre’ in Dutch Painting  - Lynne Gibson  18 October 2017

The 17th century Dutch middle class chose paintings as one of the ways of displaying their new wealth. There was a conflict in their desire to exhibit their success in this world and their Calvinistic principles and beliefs about the next one. Lynne Gibson's Double Dutch study day guided members through the fascinating maze of double entendre and symbolism constructed by the skilled artists to deal with this problem. Her talk was well evidenced with more than 20 excellent slides of Dutch artistic masterpieces highlighted with close-ups of important elements in them.

The secular paintings developed along two main lines described as Vanitas and Genre. Vanitas from the word vanity were represented by still life pictures - fruit, flowers, food, ornaments and Genre more general depictions of people in various household and daily situations.

Vanitas demonstrated wealth but included emblems of mortality, like a human skull, or the transient nature of life with pictures of well-thumbed books or lamps which had just been extinguished. Or dice or playing cards suggesting fate can take a hand. Armour and swords suggest masculinity or power; lyres or round bodied pitchers suggested femininity.

Other symbols used include globes and maps for worldliness. Something with three elements like the flowers of a pansy represent Trinity. Cut flowers demonstrated wealth and bowls of flowers were a mixture of blooms from different seasons as each flower had its own meaning.

The Genre paintings were focussed on people rather than inanimate objects and symbolism and double entendre was of a suggestive or sexual nature. This was easily recognised and enabled people to hang innocent looking pictures quite openly while enjoying their hidden implications. Here are some examples. Red cloth was very expensive and worn by wealthy women but prostitutes had their castoffs and so pictures of women in red could be construed as ladies of easy virtue. Women were well covered so one with sleeves rolled up unless it was a servant at her work might have a hidden meaning. Pictures of unmade beds or ruffled sheets speak for themselves. Foot warmers used by women in cold weather hidden under their long dresses gave rise to ribald comment. Cats with chickens, birds in cages or flown from cages were significant pointers and tables laden with fish and meat showed that pleasures of the flesh were enjoyed.

The message we took away I am sure is that pictures must be looked at slowly and carefully to ensure that nothing is missed and that all is not what it seems

at first sight. 

Roger Viner

The Houses of Parliament Study Day
11 April 2017

The Study Day was held at the Whitworth Institution in Darley Dale and we were treated to three excellent lectures on the Houses of Parliament by Dr Caroline Shenton, the former Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London.  The first lecture, based on her book ‘The Day Parliament Burned Down’, reconstructed in fine detail the events that led to the Great Fire on the 16th October 1834 when the 800 year old Parliament and most of its contents were destroyed to the horror of all who witnessed it.

Dr Shenton recounted a series of missed opportunities that might have prevented the catastrophe; from the unsupervised workmen instructed to burn two roomfuls of tally sticks (a then obsolete form of receipt) which now needed to be disposed of in order to release the rooms for other uses; to the Housekeeper’s mother-in-law, temporarily standing in, who was showing tourists the huge Armada tapestries in the House of Lords Chamber but who ignored the tell-tale signs of smoke rising up from below.  A chimney fire had started because the flues had not been cleaned since Parliament had passed the Chimney Sweepers Act earlier that same year.  The fire soon got out of control and in the early evening a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen from miles around.  Fire-fighters were called but it took time for
them to arrive and hard choices had to be made over what could and could not be saved.  ‘Damn the House of Commons – but save, oh save the hall,’ went up the cry; the hall being Westminster Hall built by William Rufus between 1097 and 1099, and its roof reconstructed by King Richard II in 1394 into an attractive hammer beam structure with a span of 68 ft making it the largest medieval timber roof in northern Europe.

Turner observing the fire from a boat on the Thames captured the scene of terrifying force and drama in two major oil paintings both now in American public collections in Cleveland and Philadelphia.  Watching at the same time the brilliant classical architect Charles Barry exclaimed ‘What a chance for an architect,’ as the old Palace of Westminster blazed before his eyes.  He went on to win the competition to design the new Houses of Parliament and thought it was the chance of a lifetime.

In Dr Shenton’s second lecture, based on her second book, she told the story of the creation of one of the most famous buildings in the world, a masterpiece of Victorian architecture.  Her book is aptly titled ‘Mr Barry’s War’ and in her lecture she described the nightmarish building programme involving feats of building technology and civil engineering in the face of practical and political odds.

Charles Barry worked with Augustus Pugin, a young fellow architect, designer and artist to submit the winning design.  He toured Belgium, Louvain, Ypres, and Brussels to find inspiration for a civic model which would meet the commission’s requirements of a building that was Gothic or Elizabethan in style.  Ninety-seven entries were submitted and Barry’s entry was number sixty-four.  He adopted the symbol of the portcullis for his identifying mark and it is to be found throughout the Houses of Parliament carved in stone and wood, stamped on leatherwork, in books, in curtains and wallpaper.

The original estimates for rebuilding were costed at £750,000 over a period of six years.  By the end, the cost rose to £2.4 million and the building was eventually completed thirty years later.

Site clearance commenced in 1836. The foundations were built on acres of unstable quicksand and took 18 months to complete; the stone was chosen in 1838 and by 1840 the first stone was laid with every expectation that the building would be completed within the next four years.  But difficulties started to emerge.  There was a damaging strike and problems were compounded by the appointment of Dr David Boswell Reid, a ventilation expert, who made increasing demands that affected the building’s design leading to delays in construction.  In 1844 Barry called again on Pugin and relied entirely on him for the building’s Gothic interiors, wallpaper and furnishings and for the detailed design of the Palace clock tower known as Big Ben.  It was to be Pugin’s last design before he descended into madness and died at the age of 40.

In her final lecture Caroline Shenton brought us up to date with plans to restore the Houses of Parliament and pointed us to more information about this at   During the Second World War further damage was sustained by a series of bombs resulting in a second fire on 10 May 1941.  Once again the question of whether to save the House of Commons Chamber or Westminster Hall arose, and, as before, the hall was chosen.  The House of Commons Chamber was rebuilt after 1945 by Sir Charles Gilbert Scott at a cost of £2 million.  Currently the building needs urgent extensive restoration.  There is a Select Committee Report which recommends to MPs three possible courses of action but no decision has been taken so far.

Our thanks go to Dr Shenton for a lively and interesting day; and also to our Chairman Peter Stubbs for organising the eventt

Michèle Bicket

Heraldry Study Day
18th October 2016

We had the benefit of learning from a delightful expert, Chloe Cockerill, who is a leading authority on Heraldry, and who very easily fielded all our questions, no matter how obscure. Our Chairman, Peter Stubbs, summed it up in saying that Heraldry is definitely a science, not an art!

Our lips are sealed on any further incorrect use of the word "Family Crest" which is only a part of a "Coat of Arms". Those of us who had brought along our own family ‘Crests’ were quickly corrected.

We covered–raced-through many aspects of heraldry such as those of ‘Corporate bodies’ ( ranging from those of the twelve Livery Companies to modern horrors such as those of Tesco-ugh- and Derbyshire University ) ; ‘Marriages and Marquises’; Church Hatchments;

’Wives and Daughters’; and even ‘Heraldic Beasts’!!

Now we should all be able to ’read’ a Coat of Arms more easily and interpret the significance of such items as Chevron, Bend, Bend Sinister ,the Pile. We can now try to interpret the information all hidden on a Sheild’s ‘quarters’ (can be up to 100 on a single shield!). We can read them like a Balance Sheet (here speaks an accountant) and understand family backgrounds, regions, level of nobility, family links. We can read of personal preferences in terms of animals, birds, hobbies, skills etc.

If any members wish to create their own Coat of Arms, and have £5,000 to hand, then one of 15 Heralds at the College of Arms will interview them and discuss their background , personal preferences and a host of other aspects of their life, before proceeding.

If one wish one’s nearest and dearest to be included and is of a noble line, then she can be included, in perpetuity, as a Heraldic Heiress. If not, then her inclusion disappears when she passes on.

So here are a few interesting snippets that we learnt;

• The Shakespeare Shield shows an item looking just like a pen and nib. In fact it is a spear-- Shake Spear!!

• The Grosvenor Shield includes a ‘Bender Grosvenor’ which is linked to a famous horse called Bender which once won the Grand National.

• The origin of the word Garter-around which are many myths as to its origin-is still somewhat obscure. It is the highest order that the Queen can bestow. There are 24 Knights of the Garter. But lesser known is that there are ‘Extra Knights’ and ‘Stronger Knights’-of which

Prince Edward is one.

• The Spencer Churchill shield has a rather interesting motto which reads "Faithful but unfortunate" !!

• Hatchments -quite a few can be seen in Gt Longstone Church

• Lady Thatcher’s shield has two ‘supporters’ at the side, one being a naval officer (ie Falklands) and the other side the profile of Sir Isaac Newton. You might think that is because she was a Chemist by training. Wrong! He is there because he came from her home town of Grantham!

• Some shields show a Wyven-a symbol of power and strength and which is a legendary creature with a dragon’s head and wings, a reptilian body, two legs and a tail!!

• Some shields show a Griffin-another legendary creature with the body, tail and back legs of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle. This is mainly seen on the Coats of Arms of descendants of Welsh settlers from Eire in the 17th Century.

• Many shields show an eagle. Very few a cat. Reason; because cats were always associated with witchcraft!!

We learnt of six types of Coronets (on the tops of Shields), and which are used by nobles and by princes and princesses rather than by monarchs.

If I really wish to stir up-which I’m about to-then compare the Coats of Arms of Cambridge University and Oxford University: Cambridge shows a closed book at the centre (Chloe went to Cambridge!); Oxford shows an open book ie still got a lot to learn!!

One outstanding fact-again quoting Peter- is that in medieval times, they were very good at designing Coats of Arms, whereas many of today’s are anything but inspiring.

This Study Day proved just how much one can learn in a single day from a real expert. Our thanks go to Chairman Peter Stubbs for organising the event so expertly.

Jonathan Wicksteed


Birmingham Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 6th September 2016
In 1899 Charles Smith and Edwin Pepper went into partnership as manufacturing jewellers in Vyse Street Birmingham. They made gold bangles, brooches, cufflinks, lockets and crosses. In due course a second generation of Smiths ran the business, brothers Mr Eric and Mr Tom as directors and Miss Olive as company secretary. None of them ever married and they lived together in a grand country house on the edge of Worcestershire travelling in to Birmingham each day. They were good employers; when the business eventually closed their longest serving employee had been with the business 60 years and the next longest 40 years. However by the end of the 1980’s Mr Eric was 81,Miss Olive 78, and Mr Tom 74. They were comfortably off, there was no family to leave the business to so one day they simply shut the front door, locked up, and walked away! Papers were left scattered in the office , and downstairs in the workshops tools , tea mugs, cigarette packets and the like were left on the benches as if the staff had merely gone for lunch. For many years all remained undisturbed until in 1990 Birmingham City Council were persuaded to buy the building and preserve it as a complete example of a working jewellery factory and so it stands today as the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.

28 of us travelled to Birmingham in an enormous 6 wheel coach which negotiated the narrow streets and tight junctions with remarkable ease and managed to park on time right outside the museum. We were then after coffee treated to a tour which took us through the whole of the manufacturing process with ancient machines and presses being operated by our guide. At the end of the process and before polishing and buffing the jewellery was dipped in an acid bath to remove any foreign matter. This work was done by the tea lady and there we saw the teapot and sugar bowl and cups and saucers sitting on her workbench next to the acid bottles! A health and safety inspector would have a fit. We also had an insight into why the business was so profitable. Enormous trouble was taken to collect and preserve gold dust that was a side product of the manufacturing process. Each workbench had an apron attached to it which the manufacturing operative put across his knees to catch any residue. The buffing machines had an air extraction point beneath them to prevent gold residue falling on the floor and being dissipated. The extraction system sucked in the gold dust and residue which was taken through a system of pipes dropping into a sawdust pit. The sawdust was then removed and burnt leaving the gold to be recovered. The directors even ensured that worn out overalls were burnt to recover any gold residue.

It was a fascinating tour of a jewellery factory in complete albeit old fashioned working order. At the end our guide told us there was in the entrance hall a visitors book in which we were invited to make comment. He said if we had not enjoyed the tour his name was Steve but if we had his name was George. His name was definitely George.

Like most of our great cities Birmingham has a superb collection of art much of it given or lent over time by wealthy local industrialists. In particular the Birmingham Museum and Art gallery which we visited in the afternoon has the largest collection of Pre Raphaelite paintings in the country. The Pre Raphaelites rejected the art of the previous generation as substandard; they referred to Sir Joshua Reynolds as ‘’ Sir Sloshua Reynolds ‘’.They sought to put more detail and complexity into their work together with intense colour, seeking the discipline of the painting of earlier times ( hence Pre Raphaelite ).We had a guided tour of the Pre Raphaelites but concentrating on three great paintings; Lizzie Siddall by Rossetti,portrayed as a beautiful but dying woman, The Blind Girl by Millais ( surely no impoverished blind girl could really look as good as this ), and The Finding of Christ in the Temple by Holman Hunt, all three exquisitely painted in almost obsessive detail and in the most beautiful bright colours.

As we were split into two groups for the guided tour we also had some time to explore and see some of the rest of the collection. By way of example of the quality as well as the quantity of the collection I noted in one room alone, of British 20th century art paintings by among others Walter Sickert,Augustus John, Gwen John, Alfred Munnings, Paul Nash, L.S.Lowry, Barbara Hepworth, and Ben Nicholson.

If you like and are moved by paintings and have not been there Birmingham Museum and Art gallery is a must.

All in all a most successful day. Our thanks go to Liz Wake for yet another impeccably organised visit.

Peter Stubbs


The Fine Art of Crime, by Malcolm Kenwood
Study Day held on 19th April 2016

We were again fortunate to be able to meet in the extraordinary late Victorian building, the Whitworth Institute, gifted in 1890 to the people of Darley Dale by Lady Louisa, widow of Sir Joseph Whitworth. His bequests also allowed the Whitworth Institute and Art Gallery, Manchester, to be founded, so it was perhaps appropriate that our day school on criminal activity in the art and antique market with practical advice on how to protect such items! Our speaker’s first tales of theft came in fact from another art gallery, the Louvre.
Malcom Kenwood is a former specialist police detective who investigated art and antique crime initially as a member of the Sussex police and later in the private sector as a former director of Fine Art Recovery, a specialist for stolen arts. His tales and slides were fascinating and took us into a different world of art as collateral value to swap for drugs or fire arms, artnapping…………rather like kidnapping, impassioned collectors, politics and war, inadequate security.. and some petty thieves just seizing the chance!
Our speaker began in 1911 when one Tuesday morning, a copyist who had been employed to copy Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Giaconda”, as the Mona Lisa was then widely termed, arrived
to find four hooks protruding from the wall and a blank space where she used to hang. The guard shrugged and set off to check the photography department, the conservationists… No sign… Jean Homolle, an archaeologist and in charge of the Louvre, was on holiday. Alas! He later lost his job. It was a wonderful story illustrated with contemporary cartoons of queues to “see” the four hooks. All ocean going liners were searched even those docking at New York,. The poet Apollinaire and Picasso were held and questioned; they were part of La Banda Picasso, pushing the boundaries of traditional art and contemporary culture… and it was suggested in an anonymous tip off might not be averse to “borrowing” some pieces of art. The inspector ordered to bring in Picasso had no car and had to bring him in under arrest on the bus; it is said the great artist loathed public transport and never used it! Now we might surmise why…
Two years later on 29th November 1913 the Mona Lisa was recovered. To hear the denouement you need to attend another of Malcolm Kenwood’s talks. Rest assured, it is as intriguing as the start of the tale of theft! This lecture gave a wonderful story as a start to the day, He went on to tell of treasured private goods at last discovered, tears of happiness, the joy of recovering
beloved artefacts of our cultural heritage… and of the incompetence of some criminals. Two jade pieces were stolen from Durham University Museum which, unlike the Louvre in 1911, had good security. Pictures of two men from CCTV coverage were released the next day and a dog walker on a building site beside the Museum saw the men and rang the police., The men it seemed had hidden the two artefacts on the building site and couldn’t remember where. “Crass ineptitude” stated the judge!
Art theft today is one of the major world wide crimes along with people trafficking, armaments and drugs. The sums of money involved are extraordinary. One rather sad fact was that even when convictions were made for art theft, sentences seemed very light.
The day concluded with Malcolm Kenwood providing excellent guidance about how to photograph our own loved things and write a clear description of them, warts, cracks and all. This brought to an end a first rate day, informative, witty and instructive… and with a fine lunch and refreshments too!
Caroline Jackson


ALL NATURE IS A GARDEN'  William Kent and the English Landscape Movement -James Bolton
Tuesday 6 October 2015

The study day was held at the Whitworth Institute in Darley Dale. Here we were treated to a series of three fascinating lectures by James Bolton which sailed through the 17th and 18th centuries, linking the gardens of the wealthy to the politics of the day, and how they were affected by civil wars, royalty, and whether the Wigs or Torys were in government. He showed us, with numerous illustrations from across Britain and Europe, how gardens and gardeners eventually became THE must have fashion accessory of the time, as grand as your purse or your inheritance could afford.

A magnificent and enduring redesign of the natural order of your estate, which had to be conjured up by the celebratory architect of the day, would reflect the importance of your standing in Society.

Gardens of the medieval age were designed to keep nature, and the dangers of the outside world, at bay. So the gardens were clipped and controlled into knot gardens, with emblematic free-standing poles, to provide impressive and meaningful views for your visitors, from the safety of your first floor rooms. Initially these were relatively small, but by the Stuart period had developed into the Baroque Italianate style fashioned by Indigo Jones, as at Hatfield and Chatsworth, with miles of labour intensive hedges and walks, fountains and statues. The plants being supplied by industrious royal gardeners at Brompton Gardens.

Times changes, heads rolled, and politics changed as did fashionable taste, although Indigo Jones was still the designer of choice. Gone were the tightly controlled medieval ideas and the baroque and in came romantic gardens. Full of temples, grottos and discrete hidden arbours, these became essential to all Society movers and shakers of the day. Inspiration came mainly from Europe, including Versailles, Upper Belvedere in Vienna and Peterhof in Russia

As with all fashion, this style eventually became 'old hat' and, with the cost of hiring labour getting more expensive, gardens became more expansive and less controlled, with rolling parkland adorned by ribbons of lakes, purposeful tree planting and long walks with directed views. Not only did you bring paintings and Palladian Artifacts back from your Grand Tour, but also the latest ideas about the potential style of your new house and garden. Not to be outdone, Lord Burlington also returned in 1718 with his own painter and interior decorator, William Kent. Kent became the new 'must have' garden designer and went on to transform the grand estates of Britain. Capability Brown followed on, creating picturesque 'natural' landscapes tinged with gothic horror.

No more keeping nature at bay , now your visitors could be amazed with the knowledge that their host owned the land as far as the eye could see.

And it was all in perfect pastoral harmony.



Following his excellent lecture on Handel last year, Peter Medhurst was invited to return and lead a whole Study Day at Ashford.  There was enthusiastic response and some 74 members came on a beautiful spring day.

Peter is a consummate professional with a wealth of knowledge about music and art and an innate ability to communicate with his audience.  His delivery is enhanced by clever use of digital technology, both audio and visual, but for many of us it was his own singing and playing that made the day memorable.

The morning session on the theme 'music inspired by paintings' commenced with a visual promenade through Dulwich Art Gallery, accompanied by moderate Mussorgsky's 'pictures at an exhibition'  Mussorgsky had been much affected by the death of his friend, the painter Hartman in 1874 and wrote the piece after visiting a posthumous show of his work.  This set the tone of the music.  Peter showed us how to hear the visitor's footsteps and he goes on from picture to picture and how the music changes in direct reponse to the emotion evoked by their different subject matter.  The music ends with the great bell peals representing Hartman's painting of the 'Great Gate of Kiev'.

The morning continued with many fascinating examples of how composers have drawn inspiration from different paintings which touched their souls.  This could happen at unexpected times and in unusual places when something sparked their own creativity in great moments of connection or epiphany.

After a sustaining lunch at the Ashford Arms we resumed our seats at 2.30 and Peter showed us the links between three Botticelli paintings from the 15th century and the musical responses to them composed by Respighi in 1927..  Under his guidance we could hear much more in the music.

Peter clearly made the point that some people listen to music and others 'hear' it, looking out for underlying themes and music structures.  He drew the parallel with just looking at a painting or studying it with understandings of its underlying symbology and meaning.

The afternoon continued with the theme flipped around to 'paintings inspired by music'.  He linked Schwind with Beethoven, Whistler with Chopin, Leighton with Mendelssohn and exposed us to Kandinsky and Schoenburg and finally Mondrian and Boogie-Woogie!.  I think we were all a little shell-shocked by the end with so much visually and orally.  We had all been challenged to look and listen in different ways and inspired to look for more links between music and paintings.

                                                                                    PENNY SPAVEN

Sixty seven members attended a Study Day at Ashford Village Hall given by Eric Knowles of Antiques Road Show fame on Art Nouveau and Art Deco.  Eric turned out not unexpectedly to be much more than a television personality.

In the morning with his knowledge and expertise he took us through a  history of Art Nouveau and into Art Deco with many sumptuous illustrations.  In relation to Art Nouveau, any member who is a fan and has not visited Nancy where Art Nouveau was virtually invented, was encouraged to g o there with a guarantee of an enjoyable and interesting weekend, with no doubt a drink in the main square, which is now a World Heritage site.  Having visited our middle son some years ago when he was a student at Nancy University I can also endorse the quality of the many fine restaurants in the city. 

In addition to two knowledgeable talks, delivered with great wit and style, Eric also gave us the benefit of  two simple rules.  Art Nouveau has curves;  Art Deco has angles!  Art Nouveau stopped in about 1910;  Art Deco started in about 1910!

Members had been invited to bring  their own items with an Art Deco or Art Nouveau connection for an assessment and evaluation session in the afternoon.  This also was a tremendous success with Eric being good enough to stay long after the planned finishing time to value each and every of the many items that members had brought.

We were very fortunate to have Eric Knowles with us with his winning combination of knowledge, wit and a great sense of  humour.  We look forward to welcoming him back to Derbyshire next year when he will be lecturing  on the subject of Moorcroft.

Last but not least as we all know Study Days do not run themselves.  We were very grateful to James Kelly our projectionist in setting  up the equipment for Eric’s visuals and to Pat Paulette and Barbara Hudson and others for setting up the hall and making us an excellent cup of coffee.




last edited 23/04/2018 11:23:16