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Read more about the article Sevres Porcelain – A Passion for Beautiful Things
Sevres Porcelain
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Sevres Porcelain – A Passion for Beautiful Things

Documentary in which Ros Savill, former director and curator at the Wallace Collection, tells the story of some incredible and misunderstood objects - the opulent, intricate, gold-crested and often much-maligned Sevres porcelain of the 18th century.     Ros brings us up close to a personal choice of Sevres masterpieces in the Wallace Collection, viewing them in intricate and intimate detail. She engages us with the beauty and brilliance in the designs, revelling in what is now often viewed as…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 9 – The Vital Spark
Civilisations episode 9
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Civilisations episode 9 – The Vital Spark

In Civilisations episode 9, Simon Schama begins Civilisations with this premise: that it is in art - the play of the creative imagination - that humanity expresses its most essential self: the power to break the tyranny of the humdrum, the grind of everyday. Art, then, makes life worth living; it is the great window into human potential. And societies become civilised to the extent that they take culture as seriously as the prosecution of power, or the accumulation of…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 8 – The Cult of Progress
Civilisations episode 8
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Civilisations episode 8 – The Cult of Progress

If David Olusoga’s first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress – both intellectual and scientific - that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.     Advances in knowledge and technology imbued Europeans in the 19th century with a…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 7 – Radiance
Civilisations episode 7
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Civilisations episode 7 – Radiance

In Civilisations episode 7, Simon Schama starts his meditation on colour and civilisation with the great Gothic cathedrals of Amiens and Chartres. He then moves to 16th century Venice where masterpieces such as Giovanni Bellini’s San Zaccaria altarpiece and Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne contested the assumption that drawing would always be superior to colouring.     As the Baroque took hold in enlightenment Europe another Venetian, Giambattista Tiepolo, created a ceiling fresco Apollo and the Four Continents at the Bishop’s…

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Read more about the article Civilisations episode 6 – First Contact
Civilisations episode 6
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Civilisations episode 6 – First Contact

In the 15th and 16th centuries distant and disparate cultures met, often for the first time. These encounters provoked wonder, awe, bafflement and fear. And, as historian of empire David Olusoga shows, art was always on the frontline. Each cultural contact at this time left a mark on both sides: the magnificent Benin bronzes record the meeting of an ancient West African kingdom and Portuguese voyagers in a spirit of mutual respect and exchange. By contrast we think Spain’s conquest…

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