The Socratic Club continued our museum event series, with a private guided tour of the internationally renowned Wallace Collection.
For these tours and our events in general in order to build on the different levels and expertise of our group we have various specialists present so there is a high teacher to student ratio (1:2).
Expert in Art History and Wallace Museum Guide, and Friend of The Socratic Club – Anna Kovaleva – helped the group delve into wonders of this collection, though no encouragement was needed! From the very first room, the boys and girls were enraptured with the wonders of the Collection.
Built over the 18th and 19th centuries by the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, Hertford House contains innumerable masterpieces. We saw paintings, sculptures, furniture, porcelain, religious artifacts and icons, arms and armour, and other marvels of the medieval and Renaissance.
We began with paintings of the founders, and royal portraiture (George IV and Queen Victoria; Charles I from the Stuarts; and Jane Seymour third wife of Henry VIII) to go onto see works by Titian, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Hals, Velazquez, Delacroix, Vernet, and the memorable Dance to the Music of Time by Nicolas Poussin.
The armoury ‘wowed’ the group with items for Henry VIII, Napoleon Bonaparte and Tsars of Russia.
We asked whether these objects were for show? For real combat? Or for hunting? We also observed how the rooms had changed from the home of a family to a museum format.
We were delighted to see so many questions from the group throughout the tour, from the differences in crowns from imperial crowns; to the purpose of various objects; and the reason for faded paintings and so on.
On the back of this outstanding tour full of artistic gems, we ended with an excellent debate on whether ‘Art is more important than Science?’
A spirited proposition rendered life sad and less impressive without art; whilst the opposition (hugely impressed by what they had seen) nevertheless felt that science with all the medical understanding and order to our lives held the dominant role. Both sides turned to Leonardo da Vinci. The motion was narrowly rejected at the second telling 40%/60%. Well done all!
We much look forward to our next tour!