The Queen’s House and the $400 million Leonardo da Vinci

By now, everyone will have heard of the world record-breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (c.1500) at Christie’s New York on 15 November 2017. Christie’s ‘triumph of marketing’ praised it as ‘the last da Vinci’, referring to its status as the last painting by the artist in private hands; this is untrue as…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Picasso Portraits – friendships immortalised

Picasso. One mention of this elusive name sparks headlines of paintings selling for millions. But who was he? Beneath the external skin of artistic genius, who exactly was the painter of the enormous Guernica (1937) or the earlier, highly controversial Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)? Who was Pablo Picasso? The National Portrait Gallery’s latest Picasso Portraits…

Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection – Leighton House Museum

This article was first published (without images) in The Courtauldian. Leighton House Museum’s latest exhibition is a commemoration of a promised gift to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, from one of the most significant private collections in North America. The group of eighty drawings was collected by Dr Dennis T. Lanigan, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon whose fascination…

Greek art manifested! – Defining Beauty at the British Museum

Greco-Roman sculpture has always been a source of intrigue for generations of artists, collectors, connoisseurs, and even tourists. The Venus de Milo in the Museé du Louvre is one of the most popular exhibits and has been a symbol of ideal female beauty and sophisticated taste for many art critics over the years. When the…