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Medieval Influences On British Arts And Crafts Designers

June 18-28, 2016

Confronted by the terrifying and exhilarating changes that industrialization in the 19th century brought to Britain, the artists and thinkers of the Arts and Crafts Movement found solace and inspiration in the medieval European past. To figures like John Ruskin and William Morris, the Middle Ages were a romantic era of chivalry and social order. In contrast to the uncertainties of Modern life, they saw the medieval period as an age of unshakable faith in which each person had a place and a purpose, where beauty and dignity could be found in the work of their hands.

Join us as we explore the medieval origins of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Our trip begins in London where we’ll look first at the medieval paintings in the National Gallery and then we’ll visit the Tate Britain to see examples of the 19th century works they inspired. At the Victoria and Albert Museum we’ll see examples of medieval metalwork, textiles, stained glass and ceramics as well as works from the Arts and Crafts Movement.  And London holds breathtaking examples of medieval architecture, such as Westminster Abbey. We’ll also see a number of 19th century buildings inspired by the medieval style, including Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill.

As we move north, we will spend several days in East Anglia, where there are a number of handsome medieval ‘wool churches’ as well as the extraordinary Neo-Medieval style cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich, designed by George Gilbert Scott, Jr.  Further north is the majestic Durham Cathedral where there are some of the finest Anglo-Saxon embroidered textiles. And nearby the romantic ruins of Fountains Abbey.

Before concluding our tour in Glasgow we’ll plan to spend a night in Brampton at the 13th century Naworth Castle where there is work by Philip Webb, whose only church St Martin’s in also in Brampton.

In Glasgow we visit the University of Glasgow, the fourth-oldest university in the English speaking world and Glasgow Cathedral. No visit to Glasgow would be complete without an examination of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and for this trip we will look at his works in the context of medieval art and architecture.

There will also be a day in Edinburgh with visits to St Giles Cathedral and the Palace of Holyrood formerly a 12th century monastery.

Through these medieval and modern works of art, we’ll explore romanticism and realities. As we learn more about medieval art in its own historical context we’ll consider why the artists and thinkers of the 19th century turned to medieval style and techniques. We’ll see how reviving the medieval past was a way for the people of the 19th century to escape, alter, or simply understand their own remarkable era.

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