Art & Culture on the Rhine A Signature Lecture Series featuring John Paul Thornton

Gain invaluable context for your journey through Holland and the Rhine River Valley by joining a pair of lectures by guest speaker John Paul Thornton. This two-part series covers the history and folklore of the Rhine, with one of the two courses emphasizing the impact of Jewish art and culture throughout the centuries—perfect for guests opting to partake in the Jewish Heritage program offered on this sailing.

These Signature Lectures will be offered on the May 31, 2024, sailing of Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland.

John Paul Thornton Signature Lecture Series
John Paul Thornton Signature Lecture Series
John Paul Thornton Signature Lecture Series
John Paul Thornton Signature Lecture Series

“Castles and Legends of the Rhine”

Explore the historic and picturesque castles, towers, and imposing fortresses set upon the terraced banks of the romantic Rhine. Steeped in medieval folklore, each structure tells a story of family rivalry, wealth, chivalry, and power. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, poets and travelers on the grand tour penned dreamy accounts of the region, and after the Napoleonic wars and the Unification of Germany, the Rhine became a destination to satisfy the yearning for a pre-industrial world. We will learn the origins of many fantastic local tales, like that of the famed “Lorelei,” an alluring siren whose songs coaxed sailors towards the dramatic rocky outcropping that bears still her name. Learn about the regional wine, economic importance, and current cultural popularity of the gorge.

“Jerusalem on the Rhine & the Art of the Jewish Enlightenment”

As we prepare to visit the UNESCO World Heritage region that is comprised of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz (collectively known as the ShuM), discover the early Roman history of Mainz, presumably settled with Jews. Home of the 10th-century scholar Moses Calonymus and many famed Rabbis, this medieval town was a seat of Hebraic culture. The ShuM was a thriving safe haven for the devout Ashkenazi community. Learn about the history and rich traces of the Jewish people still evident here. Next, we will take a reverent look at Baroque master Rembrandt van Rijn, who painted in the neighborhood of Amsterdam’s bustling Portuguese Synagogue and is believed to have engaged Jewish models for his biblically-themed portraits. Finally, we discover the incredible “Haskalah” or “Jewish Enlightenment” of the nineteenth century, which opened the doors to Jewish painters and writers.


John Paul Thornton

John Paul Thornton is a passionate speaker who brings art history to life. Dedicated to creating internationally recognized art projects which shine a light on humanity, he has received honors from the United Nations Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the U.S. Congress for his work as an artist, educator, and speaker.

Having enjoyed decades of global adventures, he lectures extensively on painting, sculpture, and architecture. John Paul’s specialized presentations on Jewish art and culture flow through the Holy Land, European Medieval and Renaissance periods to the “Haskalah”—the great enlightenment of the Modern age.


Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland

Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland (2024)

Amsterdam to Basel | 11 days

Dive deep into the region’s culture, natural wonders, traditions and historical significance in a one-of-a-kind experience along the Rhine. Delve into the region’s world-renowned museums. ...

Ship: River Queen

Countries: France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland

River: Rhine

4.6/5 (273 reviews)

Signature Lecture Series - Art & Culture on the Rhine






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