Love and Loss: The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice in Art and Music

Wednesday 3 May 2023 at 2.00 pm at the Lowther Pavilion.  Guests may attend the lecture – £10 pp (pay on door)

Please note that this lecture replaces the planned lecture Maria Callas: A Greek Tragedy in Three Acts, by Christopher Newlands. We apologise for any inconvenience but Christopher Newlands has withdrawn from this season’s programme.

The lecture notes leaflet can be downloaded/printed here


Lois Oliver

Dr Lois Oliver studied English Literature at Cambridge University, and History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, completing an MA in Venetian Renaissance Art and a PhD thesis on The Image of the Artist, Paris 1815-1855. She worked at the Harvard Art Museums before joining the curatorial team at the V&A and then the National Gallery, where she curated several exhibitions and contributed to major re-displays of the collections. Currently Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Royal Academy, Associate Professor in History of Art at the University of Notre Dame in London, and a Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute, Lois also writes audio and multimedia tours for clients including the National Gallery, Royal Academy, Royal Collection, and Tate, and has appeared on BBC Radio and TV. Also a keen violinist, Lois plays regularly with Kensington Chamber Orchestra and the Endellion Festival Orchestra.


Orpheus could literally charm the birds out of the trees with his music, yet he failed to bring his beloved Eurydice safely out of the Underworld. All he had to do was to lead her up to the light without looking back at her… Unsurprisingly this tale of a legendary singer who lost his beloved through a single glance has inspired much great music (including the first masterpiece of opera, Monteverdi’s Orfeo), and visual artists too have responded to this tragic story of love and loss. Explore the wealth of art and music on the theme, with a rich array of paintings and musical examples from Monteverdi, Gluck, and Offenbach, even taking in the Can-Can!


Caption: Wikimedia Commons. Orpheus and Eurydice (1993), by S. P. Panasenko; author ергей Панасенко-Михалкин.