History of Art Society Mr David Evans, ‘Art and Alcohol’

On Tuesday 5 October the History of Art Society was fortunate to hear Mr David Evans lecture on the subject of ‘Art and Alcohol’. His analysis started with the Christian meanings of wine, and then went on to consider the way that the Renaissance added in Classical theories to produce a rich and often ambiguous response. He suggested that the Dutch painters of the 17th century had a nuanced approach, mocking the evil consequences of over-indulgence, but balancing that with humour and understanding, producing paintings that showed some sympathy for the life of ordinary people. After looking closely at English attitudes to alcohol, as seen in the works of Hogarth and Cruikshank, he ended with a celebration of the mysterious and open-ended painting by Degas entitled ‘The Glass of Absinthe’.

This extremely intelligent and wide-ranging survey was much appreciated by the attentive audience in Marten Schools. It was certainly a useful model for the Oxford and Cambridge candidates of how to read multiple meanings in seemingly straightforward works of art.