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…

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…

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…

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…