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DateLecture
20 May 2019Debo - Mitford, Cavendish,Devonshire Duchess, Housewife 1920-2014
15 April 2019Horses, Art and History
18 March 2019Sex and the City: Hogarth and 18th Century London
18 February 2019'As If By Magic': the Secrets of Turner's Watercolour Techniques
21 January 2019A Decorative Art: History of Wallpapers
19 November 2018The Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes and Great Discoveries
15 October 2018Shakespeare and the Lyric Stage (All Singing, All Dancing Shakespeare)
17 September 2018Mad Men and Artists: How the Advertising Industry has Exploited Fine Art
16 July 2018Pearls, Pomegranates, Peacocks and Pipes: the Hidden Language of Renaissance Art
18 June 2018Laura Knight or Evelyn Dunbar: Which is the Greater Artist?
21 May 2018This Won't Hurt a Bit!
16 April 2018The Normans: Conquest and Legacy
19 March 2018The Scoliotic Knight: Reconstructing the Real Richard III
19 February 2018Ravilious, Piper and English Romanticism
15 January 2018The Art of 1935
20 November 2017'...a little revolution'. Eric Gill, Jacob Epstein and the Tradition of Carving Directly into Stone
16 October 2017Change of lecture: due to illness, Dr Webb is unable to give his talk 'Hockney: Art as Biography'. The October lecture will now be: From Berlin to Bridlington – Lucian Freud & David Hockney: which was the greater?
18 September 2017The Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists
17 July 2017Picasso and his Women
19 June 2017Fakes and Forgeries: the Art of Deception
15 May 2017Photography as Fine Art
24 April 2017The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
20 March 2017Eat, Sink and be Merry: Dining on the Titanic
20 February 2017If You Want to Get Ahead... Get a Tiara!
16 January 2017The Plot, Music and Context of La Traviata
21 November 2016The Ancient Greek Olympics: A Visitor's Guide
17 October 2016From Flea-Pit to Picture Palace: Cinema Architecture in Britain
19 September 2016Women in Art: Virgin, Venus or Vamp?
18 July 2016Imperial Purple to Denim Blue: the colourful history of textiles
20 June 2016Picasso's 'Guernica' and the Spanish Civil War
16 May 2016Masterpieces from the Barber Institute (in the context of National Collections and the image of black people in art)
18 April 2016The Artist as Reporter: British artists and WW1
21 March 2016Fire, Restoration and the Queen at Windsor Castle
15 February 2016The Punch and Judy Show: a subversive symbol from Commedia del Arte
18 January 2016England Brick by Brick!
16 November 2015Smoke, Mirrors and Sanctity: Tudor patronage and art as propaganda
19 October 2015The Arts and Crafts Movement in the West Midlands
21 September 2015Telling Time Throughout the Ages
20 July 2015‘A View from the Plinth’: a review of public sculpture today
15 June 2015Bess of Hardwick and Hardwick hall
18 May 2015Surviving Opera: how to cope with big gestures, huge voices and the plot…
20 April 2015But...Is It Art?
16 March 2015The Changing Face of London
16 February 2015A Family Affair – Florence and the House of Medici
19 January 2015Mrs Beeton Presents
17 November 2014Inn Signia: The artwork and stories behind peculiar pub names
20 October 2014The Odd Couple: Edwin Lutyens and Gertude Jekyll
15 September 2014The Art & the Scandalous Lives of the Bloomsbury Set
21 July 2014Are You Sitting Comfortably?
16 June 2014Now You See It, Now You Don't
19 May 2014Smallhythe and other Hidden Gems
14 April 2014Music Inspired by Art and Art Inspired by Music
17 March 2014The Black Death and its Aftermath
17 February 2014Tarts in Art
20 January 2014Art and Magic in the Stone Age
18 November 2013Beneath the Streets of London
21 October 2013The Staffordshire Hoard
16 September 2013Signs and Symbols in Art
15 July 2013Tyntesfield: a Victorian house Rediscovered
17 June 2013Art, Power and Money: the Life and Work of Matthew Boulton
20 May 2013An Audience with Henry VIII
15 April 2013Vigee Lebrun and Angelica Kaufman
18 March 2013Red Vibrations
18 February 2013The History of the Skyscraper
21 January 2013Have You Good Taste?
19 November 2012Romans at Home
15 October 2012Ninette to Nureyev
17 September 2012Joseph Wright of Derby

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Debo - Mitford, Cavendish,Devonshire Duchess, Housewife 1920-2014 Simon Seligman Monday 20 May 2019

Deborah Devonshire, the youngest of the Mitford sisters and wife of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, was hefted by marriage to one of Europe’s greatest treasure houses, Chatsworth. In the second half of the 20th century, in partnership with her husband, she imbued it with a spirit, elegance and sense of welcome that transformed it from being the worn-out survivor of decades of taxation, war and  social change into one of the best-loved, most-emulated and popular historic houses, gardens and estates in the country. With responsibility for Lismore Castle and Bolton Abbey as well, no wonder her passport stated her profession as ‘housewife’.

Along the way, she became a best-selling author and sell-out speaker, champion of the countryside, its skills, traditions, livelihoods and food, trustee and patron of numerous charities, businesses and good causes, and the most famous poultry keeper in the country. She met Hitler and Churchill, was a trusted confidant of the Prince of Wales, played her part as the steady heart of the Mitford sisters’ melodrama and was friends with a dazzling array of some of the brightest and most fascinating of her contemporaries, including President Kennedy, Evelyn Waugh, Oscar de la Renta, John Betjeman, Lucian Freud, Tom Stoppard, Neil MacGregor, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Alan Bennett.

She said herself that charm was the hardest quality to describe in another person; hers lived in her unique turn of phrase, her stoic Mitfordian perspective on life’s challenges, her curiosity about everyone she met, her stylish beauty, quick wit and delight in all that life offered her. Debo had a lasting impact not just on Chatsworth but on everything she touched and everyone she met; I was lucky enough to work for and with her over more than 20 years and in this lecture I pay tribute to an astonishing life.

 

Simon Seligman studied art and architectural history at Warwick University, including a semester in Venice. He is also aalso Graduate of the Attingham Summer school. From 1991 until 2010 he worked at Chatsworth in a variety of roles, latterly as Head of Communications. He has lectured about Chatsworth, the Devonshire Collection and associated topics, throughout the UK and on several US tours (including the Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery of Art). He gave numerous public presentations and interviews with the late Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. His publications include written or edited guidebooks and articles for and about Chatsworth.