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Lunch Hour Lecture: Still Lives — Death, Desire and the portrait of the Old Master

Ella Richards4 March 2016

Dr Maria Loh (UCL History of Art) opened her Lunch Hour Lecture on Renaissance self-portraits with a very contemporary comment on self-presentation.

“Hair matters”

Speaking as Hillary Clinton campaigns to be the next President of the United States, Dr Loh quoted Clinton’s Yale University commencement speech from 2001: ”hair matters…Your hair will send significant messages to those around you. What hopes and dreams you have for the world… Pay attention to your hair, because everyone else will.”

Dr Loh argued that Clinton’s words resonated more widely than we might realise. Showing the theatre the evolution of David Beckham’s hair and reminding us of the message that Britney Spears sent out when she shaved all of her hair off, Loh noted that the hairstyle of a Roman bust is often a key indicator of the period of the sculpture.

Renaissance self-portraits

Sofonisba Anguissola, 1556

Sofonisba Anguissola, 1556
via Wikimedia Commons

With this in mind, Loh presented her first old master: Sofonisba Anguissola.

Sofonisba Anguissola was one of the great portrait artists of the Renaissance period and Dr Loh argued that in an early self-portrait Anguissola sought to make her ambitions clear.

She stands with neatly parted hair holding a shield that declares “The maiden Sofonisba Anguissola, depicted in her own hand, from a mirror, at Cremona”, an explicit act of self-presentation that directs the onlooker’s interpretation of her image.

Anguissola’s desire to control her own image was a lifelong trait. When Anthony Van Dyck painted Anguissola in her 90s, she told him to not position the light in the portrait too high lest the “shadows in the wrinkles of old age should become too strong.” (more…)

Not ‘just’ a translation: Latin translation in Elizabethan England

news editor15 October 2013

pencil-iconBy Chris Stamatakis (UCL English Language & Literature)

Professor Gesine Manuwald

Professor Gesine Manuwald

When is a translation more than just a translation? When might it become an imitation? What happens when translators adopt, transpose, and freely modify writing in one language as they turn it into another? How does a translator do more than merely convey the words or sense of the original, and instead recreate something of the style and elegance of that language?

Aficionados of Latin and the curious layman alike had a wonderful opportunity to grapple with these questions at a talk on Latin as a language of translation in Renaissance England, given at UCL on 10 October by Professor Gesine Manuwald, in the first of this year’s ‘Translation in History’ lectures.

An expert on Roman literature, Professor Manuwald, Head of UCL Greek and Latin  , drew on her extensive interests in the reception and writing of Latin literature in England. In Elizabethan England, Prof. Manuwald explained, Latin was not only used as a literary language by English writers because it allowed them to reach a wider European audience (as Francis Bacon would prove); it also served as a language for developing fluency and stylistic elegance.