Pleasures of Paris, October 3 and 10, 2018, 12:00-2:30, including lunch
Paris, known as the City of Light, has long exerted a powerful appeal as one of the world’s most important locations for art and culture. These richly illustrated presentations focus on the major artists and monuments of Paris from its earliest beginning until today. Included is the long history of the celebrated Musée du Louvre that started as a fortress during the Middle Ages, became a royal residence, then a museum, and, most recently, acquired I.M. Pei’s controversial pyramidal entrance. Follow changing artistic styles in medieval Paris that include the microscopically detailed manuscript miniatures of Jean Pucelle. The edifying Baroque paintings of Charles Le Brun are replaced by the entertaining erotic Rococo paintings of Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Honoré Daumier’s cartoons satirize life in Georges-Eugene Haussmann’s renovated city of Paris. The variety of architecture erected during the 20th century ranges from the Art Nouveau entrances of the Paris Metro (subway) that have been compared to enormous insects, to the high-tech Pompidou Center where the heating, plumbing, and escalator are exposed on the exterior of this museum. Paris, especially during the twentieth century, attracted many of the most famous artists from various countries, including Picasso from Spain. Join Dr. Janetta Rebold Benton, Distinguished Professor of Art History and a former resident of Paris, for a vicarious visit to her favorite city.
October 3, 2018
2. Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassicism. Visit the Luxembourg Palace and gardens. Follow the change from the serious paintings of Charles Le Brun (Louis XIV said he was “the greatest French artist of all time), to depictions of light-hearted romance in the paintings of Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Important events in French history, as the Revolution, and people, as Napoleon, are documented in the paintings of Jacques-Louis David.
October 10, 2018
4. Twentieth Century. Art Nouveau entrances were built to the Paris Metro. Among the famous artists working in Paris were Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Constantin Brancusi, Fernand Leger, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, Victor Vasarely, and Niki de Saint Phalle. The extraordinary Pompidou Center displays recent art in a museum built inside out!
All-day seminar with French-inspired lunch and French wine, Saturday, November 3, 2018, 10 a.m.–4 p.m
Fortresses and Fantasies: The Châteaux of the Loire Valley
From forbidding fortresses to charming châteaux and castles, the splendid structures of the Loire Valley reflect lives of opulence and intrigue. Medieval fortresses built for defense with moats and towers gradually gave way to spectacular Renaissance pleasure palaces. Sumptuous elegance, not comfort, was the primary design principle of the châteaux. Ornamented with paintings and sculptures and surrounded by reflecting pools and perfectly manicured gardens, they make the mansions of today’s rich and famous seem austere by comparison.
10–11 a.m. The Days of Knights: Step into the medieval and Renaissance eras at the Château of Saumr, its depiction featured in the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry; Sully-sur-Loire, a prison for Joan of Arc; Langeais, a medieval stronghold that became a Renaissance châteaux; and Châteaudun, built over three centuries.
11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Country Life and Court Life: Visit little rural La Devinière, home of Rabelais; the Clos-Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s last home; Azay-le-Rideau, one of the earliest French Renaissance palaces, built on an island in the Indre River; and the Château Royal de Blois, a unique example of the development of French architecture from the 13th through the 17th centuries.
12:30–1:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30–2:45 p.m. Luxury and Liaisons: The high life along the Loire: Château de Chambord, with a miniature village on its roof, is the largest castle in the valley. Chenonceau, the “château of the ladies,” was Henry II’s gift to his mistress Diane de Poitiers; when Henry died, his wife Catherine de Medici forced her to switch palaces and move to Chaumont.
3:15–4 p.m. Renaissance Gardens: Examine plantings, plans, and meaning at Chenonceau, Villandry, and other sumptuous gardens in the Loire Valley.
Information to be available at:
As the Smithsonian Expert on the following trips, I present several formal lectures on each, as well as many informal talks.
♦ Great European Journey, June 12-22, 2018. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/europe-train-cruise/itinerary/
♦ London: One-Week Stay in England , July 5-13, 2018. For information: http://www.smithsonianjourneys.org/tours/london-stay/itinerary/
♦ France Through the Ages, May 17-31, 2019
♦ Highlights of Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland), July 13-26, 2019,
Additional Lectures In China:
Beijing: Tsinghua University, Broadcast of my lecture on Andy Warhol, watched by more than 3,600 people
Shanghai: Shanghai University, Winslow Homer, American Consulate, Winslow Homer
Nanjing: Nanjing University, 1) Georgia O’Keeffe, 2) Andy Warhol
Chinese translation of 2 volumes of Arts and Culture, 4e, Tsinghua University Press, Beijing, forthcoming
Janetta Rebold Benton is the Distinguished Professor of Art History at Pace University, NY. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award as Visiting Professor at the graduate school of Art History, European University, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2012-13, and has received a second Fulbright as Visiting Professor at the graduate school of Art History, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China, 2018.
Dr. Benton presents subscription seminars at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. She presented subscription lecture series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, every season 1988-2011, and at the Schimmel Center for the Arts, NYC. She has also lectured at The Cloisters, NYC; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach; and elsewhere in America and abroad, including the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia and the Louvre, Paris, France. She is the Expert Lecturer on Smithsonian and Metropolitan Museum of Art trips throughout the world. A former resident of Paris, she taught courses in art history there as the Art Historian at the American Embassy.
She is currently working on her ninth book, ITALY'S RENAISSANCE: ART AND ARCHITECTURE 1280-1580 (Oxford University Press, NY, forthcoming). Her HANDBOOK FOR THE HUMANITIES (Robert DiYanni co-author, Pearson, Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2014) is published in paperback and as an E-book. ARTS AND CULTURE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HUMANITIES (Robert DiYanni co-author, Pearson/Prentice Hall, two volumes and combined volume, fourth edition, 2012) is also published in Chinese (2011). MATERIALS, METHODS, AND MASTERPIECES OF MEDIEVAL ART (Praeger Series on the Middle Ages, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA, 2009) is available in hardcover and as an E-book. MEDIEVAL MISCHIEF: WIT AND HUMOUR IN THE ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (The History Press, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2004) examines an engaging aspect of medieval art. ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (Thames & Hudson, London, 2002) is published in the acclaimed World of Art series. HOLY TERRORS: GARGOYLES ON MEDIEVAL BUILDINGS (Abbeville Press, NY, 1997) is also published in French as SAINTES TERREURS: LES GARGOUILLES DANS L'ARCHITECTURE MÉDIÉVALE (2000). Dr. Benton was the guest curator and catalog author for the 1995 exhibition MEDIEVAL MONSTERS: DRAGONS AND FANTASTIC CREATURES at the Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY. Her book, THE MEDIEVAL MENAGERIE: ANIMALS IN THE ART OF THE MIDDLE AGES (Abbeville Press, NY, 1992), a Book of the Month Club selection, is also published in French as BESTIAIRE MÉDIÉVAL: LES ANIMAUX DANS L'ART DU MOYEN AGE (1992). Articles by Dr. Benton appear in IKON, Center for Iconographic Studies, University of Rijeka, Croatia, 2017; Proceedings of the International Conference, State Hermitage Museum Publishers, Saint Petersburg, 2017 and 2015; Encyclopedia of Humor Studies, Sage Reference, Los Angeles, CA, 2014; Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition catalog, SET IN STONE: THE FACE IN MEDIEVAL SCULPTURE, 2007; as well as in scholarly journals including Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, Poitiers, 1998; Arte Medievale, Rome, 1993; Artibus et Historiae, Vienna, 1989; and Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 1985.
Dr. Benton was educated at Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, MDP diploma; earned her Ph.D. in Art History at Brown University; Master's degree in Art History at George Washington University; and Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Cornell University.