3-2-C: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A is known for many things: full-sized casts of Michelangelo’s David (1501-4) and Trajan’s Column, the Raphael’s tapestry cartoons, the ‘Green’ Dining Room designed by William Morris, the Indian barrel organ called Tippoo’s Tiger (1793), Matthew Cotes Wyatt’s sculpture of the dog Bashaw, the Faithful Friend of Man (1832-34), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Day…

A case of ‘mirror mania’ – Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites

When the National Gallery acquired Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434) in 1842, it was the only pristine example of early Netherlandish painting from this period in their collection. Van Eyck had also been erroneously credited as the inventor of oil painting, a sixteenth-century myth invented by Giorgio Vasari in Italy and perpetuated by Karel…

3-2-C: The Wallace Collection, London

Of all the museums and galleries in London, the Wallace Collection is my favourite. Displayed at Hertford House and only a short walk away from Oxford Street, the collection contains everything from leaves of illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, to military arms and armoury, in addition to a very strong selection of French 18th-century…

In The Name Of Michelangelo

The Opera di Santa Croce, the non-profit body in charge of the church and monumental complex’s upkeep since 1371, is currently raising €100,000 ($119,000) to fund a hugely important project to clean and restore the tomb complex of Michelangelo and the Buonarroti family. It is urgently in need of restoration following damage caused by the…

3-2-C: Tate Modern, London

Tate Modern is London’s all-around stop for modern and contemporary art. There is everything from painting to performance art, sculpture to new media, and even a viewing platform from the new Blavatnik Building. Many visitors gawk at Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman (1937), marvel at Salvador Dalí’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937), and fall silent in the…

3-2-C: The British Museum, London

According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), the British Museum continues to reign supreme for the 10th year running as the most popular UK attraction in 2016. Nearly 6.4 million people passed through its colonnade and classical façade to see the mummies, the Rosetta Stone (196 BC), the looted Parthenon statues, and on…

Encountering the Past

In a chapter of Cynthia Freedland’s book, Portraits & Persons, the philosopher proposes that portraits are images of persons that fulfil one or more of the following features: Likenesses Psychological characterisations Proofs of presence or ‘contact’ Manifestations of a person’s ‘essence’ or ‘air’ Such criteria may seem obvious but, in practice, they are particularly difficult…

‘My dearest compare’: Michelangelo & Sebastiano

‘All the discords that arose between Pope Julius and me were owing to the envy of Bramante and Raphael of Urbino […] And Raphael had good reason to be envious, since what he knew of art he learnt from me.’ (Michelangelo from Rome to an unknown addressee, October-November 1542) What do you get when you…

3-2-C: The National Gallery, London

Everyone thinks they know the National Gallery, especially art historians and enthusiasts. They look at Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors (1533), Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434), and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888), thinking they’ve seen it all. On the odd occasion, they might view Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (1520-23) or Caravaggio’s The Supper…

There’s more to Marcantonio Raimondi than just porn!

‘[…] Giulio Romano caused Marc’ Antonio to engrave twenty plates showing all the various ways, attitudes, and positions in which licentious men have intercourse with women; and, what was worse, for each plate Messer Pietro Aretino wrote a most indecent sonnet, insomuch that I know not which was the greater, the offence to the eye…

The Return of Flaming June

Among an unfettered mass of dark crimson and pale olive draperies a young woman dressed in radiant orange sleeps peacefully. In the distance lies endless Mediterranean waters, shimmering in the gleaming sun; a mountainous island appears beyond the afternoon haze. She sleeps against a marble bench and parapet, her head leaning into her bent arm…

A Sense of Rembrandt

Leiden, 1624. After a six-month apprenticeship with the painter Pieter Lastman in Amsterdam, a young, 18-year-old Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn moved back to his native city of Leiden and opened his own studio in 1624 or 1625. Sometime within this period of artistic development, Rembrandt painted an elusive set of five paintings, The Five Senses…