Thursday 7th March 2019

Speaker: William Forrester

As a logical extension to my lectures on British Country Houses and their families, we consider MiLord Abroad, when a large proportion of the contents of those Country Houses was bought. We begin with the perils and pleasures of the journey via Calais, Paris and the Alps. We visit Florence for sightseeing, study and shopping but particularly concentrate on Zoffany’s masterpiece of Grand Tour travel, The Tribuna of the Uffizzi. We visit Naples where the spectacular eruption of Vesuvius and the nubile charms of Emma Hamilton both proved to be great attractions. We visit Venice whose courtesans were a particular joy for the young Grand Tourist (like the Duke of York) who found the study of antiquities rather too cerebral. There we, of course, consider the career and work of Antonio Canaletto, undoubtedly the most famous view painter of the Grand Tour. With him we attend the unmissable events of the Venetian tourist calendar. We make a special study of Rome, the most important destination of all. There we meet the tutors, the tour guides, the art dealers and the swindlers. We consider the collection of antique and neo-classical sculpture. We examine the (sometimes dubious) purchases, the views of Rome by Panini, Piranesi et al, and, above all, the magnificent portraits by Mengs and Batoni of Milord Abroad. Finally we return home to see how the tour influenced the exterior and interior of the British Town and Country House.


MA from Oxford University, a Diploma in Art History (with distinction) and is a qualified teacher (PGCE from Reading University). Lectured for the National Portrait Gallery (where he worked in the Education Department), the British Museum, the National Gallery and the National Trust. Organised and led study and orientation programmes for the Universities of New York, Illinois and New Jersey (Rutgers. An Adult Education tutor for the Universities of Surrey and Warwick. Publications include The Collins Guide to the Lake District and Access in London (latest edition 2014) and he is a contributor to The Time Out Book of London Walks and Time Out’s Open London (2012). Wrote and presented programmes for Central TV, Thames TV and BBC Radio 4. Blue Badge Guide/Lecturer for London and Cumbria, particular expertise in guiding at the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and the British Museum. Awards from the Lord Mayor of London, the Evening Standard and the British Tourist Authority for his work and was made Man of the Year in 1990 and Guide/Lecturer of the year in the inaugural year of the award, sponsored by the British Museum