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Provocations in Art: Portrayals of Age and Beauty


● Fully booked

Friday 8 April 2016
6.30 — 7.45pm

This event has now ended

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Part of our

In the Age of Giorgione

events programme
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Giorgione, La Vecchia (detail), c. 1508-10.

Tempera and oil on canvas. 68 x 59 cm. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice, inv. 272. Photo © Archivio fotografico del Polo Museale del Veneto. Photography: Quartana, su concessione del Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo.

Feminist academic Professor Lynne Segal, fashion and art historian Aileen Ribeiro and writer Sarah Dunant examine the representation of ageing alongside attitudes towards age and beauty. Dr Hannah Zeilig (University of the Arts) chairs this discussion.

“That fair face will as years roll on lose its beauty, and old age will bring its wrinkle to the brow” - Ovid

Beauty is habitually associated with youth, especially for women, and artistic portrayals of age and ageing have long been a contentious issue in our society. Painted during his all-too-brief artistic career, Giorgione’s La Vecchia is a rare example of a realistic portrayal of an elderly woman in the early 16th century, a period in which portraits of young, idealised ‘beauties’ were more often celebrated. In her hands, the woman holds a scrap of paper inscribed with the words ‘With Time’, referencing the passage of time and a reminder that we all shall age. Using La Vecchia as a starting point, our panel will explore the depiction of ageing in art in conjunction with wider societal considerations of age and beauty.

Panellists include:

Lynne Segal is anniversary professor of psychology and gender studies at Birkbeck College, London and the author several books including Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing.

Aileen Ribeiro is Professor Emeritus in the history of art at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Her recent book Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art explores concepts of female beauty in art and literature.

Sarah Dunant is a writer and broadcaster, whose novels include the international bestselling trilogy ‘The Birth of Venus’, ‘In the Company of the Courtesan’ and ‘Sacred Hearts’, giving voices to three women in different historical contexts within the Italian Renaissance, and ‘Blood and Beauty’, about the infamous Borgia family in fifteenth-century Italy. For many years she was on the editorial board of the RA magazine.

Dr Hannah Zeilig is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Arts, London and Visiting Fellow at King’s College London and University of East Anglia. Her research examines the cultural representation of age and aging.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Friday 8 April 2016

6.30 — 7.45pm

The Reynolds Room, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts

£16 (includes exhibition entry). £12 (event only). Reductions available.