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Talking Peace 1604: The Somerset House Conference Paintings

Talking Peace 1604: The Somerset House Conference Paintings

20 May to 25 July 2004

This exhibition will look at the Spanish-Flemish-English peace conference that was held in London during the summer of 1604 at the royal palace of Somerset House on the Strand. It will focus on an extraordinary - and immense - picture that shows the delegates seated within a magnificently furnished interior, which survives in two closely-related painted versions.

Little is known about the history of either version. They present many puzzles. Who commissioned them? Who painted them? How accurately do they depict the long-vanished interior of old Somerset House (demolished in the late 1770s). How do they relate to each other? The show examines these questions in the light of the latest research. These paintings are presented in the context of some spectacular royal portraits of the period, exquisite portrait miniatures and items of jewellery, as well as a rare surviving ‘Turkey’ carpet very similar to the one that takes centre stage in the paintings.

The exhibition is part of a series of events during the spring and summer being organised by the Somerset House Trust and King’s College, London, to celebrate the 400 th anniversary of the 1604 conference. An academic conference, Talking Peace 1604: The Historical Context, will take place from 27 to 29 May, and the season also includes seminars, lectures, concerts and educational events. Dr Karen Hearn of Tate Britain, curator of the exhibition, will give a special lecture in the Somerset House Lecture Theatre on Monday 7 June at 6.30 pm. Tickets cost £3 and are available from the Learning Centre, tel. 020 7420 9406.


Somerset House

London WC2R 1LA


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