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Newsletter - May 2012


Art inspired by Wine

John Ericson led us – with humour and erudition – on a winding journey through the imagery of wine, wine antiques, wine in the art of the Impressionists, the chateaux of Bordeaux and interesting wine labels. We were diverted with images of Bacchus, educated with pictures of glasses, decanters, and other accessories, and amused with cartoons.

Self Portrait, Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting

Along the way we learned that wine had no paper labels until 1860, but bottle tickets of silver of ivory that hung round the neck of the bottle. Decanters were made with coloured glass until it was discovered that it discoloured the wine; etched claret jugs were later fashionable and these now command high prices. Eighteenth century glasses were decorated with twists in their stems until these became too expensive to produce.

We were shown the amazing shapes of the modern Riedel decanters, where the sculptural shape influenced the taste and could aerate the wine, and learned the company was the first to design a range of different glass shapes for different wines.

Vineyards were portrayed from the 16th century in tapestries and paintings, and we saw the making of barrels in oak that were toasted to impart the oaked flavour.

Self Portrait, Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting

Artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse, Gauguin, Degas, Monet, Renoir all painted pictures featuring drink and drinkers, some of which are now instantly recognisable images. Hogarth and Rowlandson portrayed the more outrageous images of over-indulgence, and the clever cartoons of Ronald Searle amused us more recently.

Self Portrait, Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting

We had a glimpse of the sometimes fantastic architecture of the Bordeaux chateaux, including Margaux and Latour among others, and the art of wine labels, such as the famous Mouton Rothschild labels designed by artists like Chagall, Dali and Picasso.

This was a fascinating insight into a subject perhaps we tend forget when we select our ‘vin de table’ from the shelf of our local store, but this lecture reminded us that wine and art have been linked over many years, and there was much humour in the telling. A most enjoyable evening.

Visit to Oxford on 26th June

There are still some places available for this trip to the Ashmolean Museum to see the special exhibition about the Capture of the Westmorland and the cargo of art that was on board.  Email Madeline on if you are interested in joining us.

New members’ get together

Last summer, due the fact that Judith Virgo was very busy with her political life, we hadn’t got time for our usual new member’s tea party. So this year we are inviting everyone who joined in 2011 and 2012 to come to Monique’s beautiful house for a social gathering to meet the committee and other new members. Please do come if you have received an invitation; if you have mislaid your invitation, which was sent out by email, just drop a line to

Your Speaker Ratings 2011/2012

This list shows you the top 5 speakers of the year ending 30th April 2012 as voted by members.

1 Lucy Worsley The First Duke of Newcastle June 90%
2 Colin Lattimore History of the Long Case Clock Jan 83%
3 Frances Hughes Theatrical Personalities Sept 80%
4 Mary Alexander Meet me at the Waldorf Feb 80%
5 David Bostwick Deck the Hall Dec 78%

Thank you for your feedback – please continue to send in your responses in 2012/13.

Our parent body

NADFAS, has redesigned their website to make it more user-friendly and gives a lot of information about our aims and activities. Check it out to read more about our Society.

NADFAS is organizing a “Gold: Power and Allure” event with Goldsmith’s at Goldsmith’s Hall on June 18th, and they have around 15 tickets left for this day which are £48 each and include lunch and a lecture with Helen Clifford. We have attached a ‘flyer’ with the details and also a booking form. You can book by sending an email to or they can ring on 020 7430 0730 extension 244.

Booking Form - Click here to view and download

A reminder of some current exhibitions

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
The First Moderns: Art Nouveau from Nature to Abstraction
until 2 December 2012

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China
until 11 November 2012


National Portrait Gallery
Lucien Freud Portraits
until 27 May 2012

National Gallery
Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude
until 5 June 2012

Royal Academy
Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed
until 10 June 2012

Tate Britain
Picasso & Modern British Art
until 15 July 2012

Bauhaus: Art as Life
until 12 August 2012

V & A
British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age
until 12 August 2012

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Royal River: Power, Pageantry and the Thames
until 9 September 2012

Hampton Court Palace
The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned
(Portraits of Charles II’s mistresses)
until 30 September 2012