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Uffizi selfies come to Budapest

Self-portrait by Pál Szinyei Merse (1845–1920)
Pál Szinyei Merse’s plein-air rendering of a field of poppies

 

As part of the Budapest Spring Festival, an unusual exhibition has come to the Budapest History Museum: “Painters in the Mirror”, a display of self-portraits by Hungarian artists from the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Uffizi has an extensive collection of self-portraits, the largest in the world: over 1,600 of them, of which 24 are of Hungarian artists. They are displayed in the Corridoio Vasariano, a covered walkway built by Vasari in five months to celebrate the marriage of Francesco de’ Medici and Joanna of Austria in 1565. Nearly a kilometre long, its purpose was to connect Palazzo Vecchio via the Uffizi and Ponte Vecchio with the new residence of the Medici dukes at Palazzo Pitti. The Medici family found it particularly convenient in wet weather and it was sometimes used as a nursery for the children of the grand dukes. Elderly or infirm members of the family were wheeled along it in bath chairs. The Uffizi’s collection of self-portraits has been hung here since the early 20th century. The collection was begun by Cardinal Leopoldo in 1664. Having acquired the self-portraits of Guercino and Pietro da Cortona, he went on to collect the ‘selfies’ of some 80 more artists. The collection continues to be augmented.

The first Hungarian self-portrait to enter the collection was that of the elder Károly Markó, a painter of almost Claude-like landscapes who settled near Florence in 1848. The collection continued to expand throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, largely by invitation. The portraits of Rippl-Rónai, István Csók and Pál Szinyei Merse arrived at the Uffizi by this route. The great painter of large-scale historical canvases Gyula Benczúr was also invited to contribute a self-portrait and produced one expressly for the Uffizi. Other self-portraits were acquired by purchase. It was not long before artists eagerly sought to have themselves represented at the Uffizi, and the gallery received numerous offers, some of which it accepted and some of which it did not. Miklós Barabás, considered (at least in Hungary) one of the finest portraitists of his day (1810–98), submitted a portrait (it was submitted, in fact, by his son-in-law) but it was not considered by the board of judges to be of sufficient artistic merit. It was not returned, however, and is still the property of the Italian state, officially entered in the Uffizi’s inventory. It forms part of the current exhibition, hung alongside a charming likeness by Barabás of a young woman in a black dress, painted against a backdrop in the Hungarian—and Italian—national colours of red, white and green.

 

Self-portraits of Hungarian modern and contemporary artists include Victor Vasarely’s typically optical-illusory upside-down image of himself, and a fine work by László Fehér (b. 1953), who presents a typically hyper-realist image of himself in a small pocket mirror.

 

Each self-portrait in this interesting and absorbing small exhibition is shown alongside another painting by the same artist which may be taken to be representative of his or her oeuvre. Some of the more memorable pairings include Philip de László’s classic, textbook self-portrait hung next to his stunning likeness of Pope Leo XIII; and Pál Szinyei Merse’s view of himself in a wintry birch forest hung alongside his beautiful Poppy Field, its tall grass and cotton-wool clouds redolent of early summer warmth.


“Painters in the Mirror”, at the Budapest History Museum, runs until 20th July. The collection of the Uffizi is covered in detail in Blue Guide Florence.

Florentine Mannerists at Palazzo Strozzi

‘The Visitation’ by Pontormo, from Carmignano

by Alta Macadam

A major exhibition now running at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (on until 20 July 2014) is dedicated to two of the most famous protagonists of Mannerism in Italy. It traces the highly individualistic styles of Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, both born in the same year, 1494, and who both started out their careers in the Florentine workshop of Andrea del Sarto. The exhibition's sub-title, ‘Diverging paths of Mannerism’, makes clear the intention is to illustrate the wide differences in style of these two masters. The texts throughout the show often cite Vasari, who first used the term maniera to describe his contemporaries’ way of painting. This ‘mannered’ style, characteristic of the painters who were at work immediately after the great era of Raphael and Michelangelo, was long considered affected and even decadent, but since the 20th century it has been recognised that these 16th-century painters explored new ideas and that their work is often characterised by extreme elegance and refinement.

The visitor is greeted by three huge frescoes from the Santissima Annunziata: on either side of a biblical scene by Andrea del Sarto are the Assumption by Rosso and the Visitation by Pontormo, both of which stand out for their originality. In Rosso’s memorable crowd of Apostles there are numerous different expressions and stances, while Pontormo’s fresco has great elegance and the two central figures portray a touching intimacy.

One entire room is dedicated to portraits by Pontormo. Beside his well-known posthumous ‘official’ Portrait of Cosimo il Vecchio, in his bright crimson cloak, is displayed his much more intimate Double portrait of two friends from the collection in Palazzo Cini in Venice (which is not regularly open to the public so this is a great chance to see this unusual work). It is displayed beside the engaging Young Man from the Palazzo Mansi in Lucca. Two of Pontormo's best male portraits, both sitters shown holding books, are on loan from the National Gallery in Washington and a private collection. Rosso is also given a room of his own to display his portraits: arguably the two most accomplished are those from the Uffizi and the Pitti.

Rosso’s Marriage of the Virgin from San Lorenzo is one of his loveliest altarpieces, crowded and full of colour. Pontormo’s work in the chapel of Santa Felicita, with his famous frescoes, are understandably not present in the exhibition (but can be seen just a few steps away across the Arno), but the lovely little stained-glass window from the chapel and the painted tondo have been brought here so that they can be seen at close range. His Crucifixion, salvaged from a tabernacle near Villa della Petraia and housed in the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, is also on show, and even though greatly damaged it demonstrates his skills in this medium. Pontormo’s small Madonna and Child with the Young St John is here too, from the Corsini Collection (a private collection, the most important to have survived in Florence, but long closed to the public, so this is a welcome opportunity to see it).

Pontormo’s greatest work is the Visitation from the church of Carmignano close to Florence. Mary is shown embracing her older cousin Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) in the presence of two women looking out of the painting, Mary and Elizabeth's ‘alter egos’. It has been restored for the exhibition and its colour and composition make it one of the masterpieces of 16th-century Italian painting. In the same room is Rosso’s Deposition from the church of San Lorenzo in Sansepolcro, one of his highest achievements (also recently restored so that all the details, some quite bizarre, are far more visible). His small painting of the Death of Cleopatra (now in Braunschweig), the only secular painting he produced before he left Italy for France, is particularly beautifully painted, and this is a rare occasion to see this little-known work.

The last room illustrates Rosso’s activity at the French court of François I in Fontainebleau, where he spent the last years of his life, and includes a magnificent tapestry illustrating the battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs, made there on a cartoon by Rosso (and now in Vienna).

The curators of the exhibition are Antonio Natali (much-admired director of the Uffizi Gallery) and the art historian Carlo Falciani. The display, by the architect Luigi Cupellini, is excellent, with clear and helpful descriptions (‘textbooks’ are provided in each room to stimulate children’s interest). Dr James M. Bradburne, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, is to be congratulated on continuing to produce important and thoroughly enjoyable exhibitions at Palazzo Strozzi. Its programme stands out as the liveliest element in the city’s current cultural scene.

Alta Macadam is the author of Blue Guide Florence, available in both print and digital formats.

13.03.2014
11:37

Rome: seasonal stations

If you happen to be in Rome in early spring, it is fun to follow some of the ‘Lenten Stations’. For each day of Lent, a particular church is assigned, and Mass is celebrated there. The tradition of the stational church dates back to the early years of Christianity, when on certain appointed days the community of the faithful would gather in a designated church to celebrate Mass together. Today the tradition is kept up during Lent. Sometimes, the pope himself officiates (to find out when, check the Vatican website and click on ‘Liturgical Celebrations’).

The church assigned for the second Sunday in Lent is Santa Maria in Domnica, an ancient church on the highest point of the Caelian Hill. It is also commonly known as Santa Maria della Navicella, after the ancient Roman stone boat (probably a votive offering from soldiers at the nearby Castra Peregrina, a barracks for non-Romans) that was placed here by Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, the future Pope Leo X, when he rebuilt the church in the 16th century. It still stands outside the church today, and now functions as a fountain.

Inside the church all eyes are turned to the lovely mosaics on the triumphal arch and apse, dating from the 9th-century restoration of Pope Paschal I. On the arch sits Christ in Judgement, robed in gold with the orb of the earth between his feet, holding a scroll and flanked by angels and the apostles dressed in purple-fringed togas. Paul is the first apostle on the left, Peter the first on the right, with Moses and Elijah below them. In the conch are the Virgin and Child enthroned. Kneeling at the Virgin’s feet, with a square halo to indicate that he was still alive at the time that this mosaic was made, is Pope Paschal himself. The Madonna and Child are flanked by angels, the blue of their haloes creating a striking abstract pattern on either side. The whole is rendered against a lovely green ground, the colour of new spring grass, covered with white and red flowers. The monogram of Paschal is in the centre of the underside of the arch.

The coffered ceiling dates from the late 16th century. It was commissioned by another member of the Medici family, Ferdinando, later Grand Duke of Tuscany, who was titular cardinal of this church. Its central motif shows the Navicella, playing the part both of the Ark of Noah and of the Ark of the Host, the tabernacle which holds the Communion bread.

For more on the early churches of Rome, see Pilgrim's Rome, available in print or digital.

Sustainable living in Bolzano

The Municipality of Bolzano moved to create Casa Nova in 2002, in response to growing demand for affordable housing. The new mixed-use district was to provide exemplary quality of life despite the high building density (3.5 m³/m² for a total of 350,000 m³). An important goal was to respect the highest standards of sustainability established by the independent European rating agency KlimaHaus, which is headquartered in Bolzano.

Possibly the most successful of the eight building blocks is Christoph Mayr Fingerle’s Castelfirmiano complex of 2008 (EA7, the second closest to the River Adige). Within the bounds of a subsidised housing project with restrictions, Mayr Fingerle has tried to create good, sound architecture that will encourage social interaction among residents. The design fully embraces the project’s core objective of ‘park living’, but to enhance the interplay between the agrarian landscape and the inner garden courts Mayr Fingerle modified the shape and floor plan of the three individual buildings in the polygonal housing block, reducing the depth of the buildings foreseen in the master plan and altering the corners so the inner court would appear larger than it is, its angled sides creating an effect of breadth.

To resolve basic issues such as the design of the façade and the interior finishings the team met several times with the complex’s future inhabitants. A full-scale model of the façade was built to help everyone understand the architect’s intentions and hence close the gap between the clients’ expectations and the building’s final form.

For the flats the architect developed four basic modules, on the basis of which 92 different floor plans were created to meet the needs and desires of 92 families. All the flats receive light and air from the east and the west; there are no northern exposures. The top-floor split-level lofts have rooftop terraces with views of the surrounding mountains. Oak-panelled porches inserted in the concrete façade create a feeling of warmth and comfort; the irregular arrangement of windows reflects the different configuration of the interior spaces while creating an impression of lightness. The building blocks are connected by two levels of parking; three large openings in the ground provide the car park with natural air and light from the garden, making it easier to find one’s way and eliminating ‘scary’ dark areas. Each flat has a cellar, and the car park’s large central atrium can be used for group events.

Circulation from public to semi-public to private space was a key issue for the architect: large entry foyers promote contact and community life, and the garden pathways, some wider than others, mimic the spatial experience of a village with its a main street and narrower cross-streets. In order to meet ground-floor inhabitants’ desire that private gardens be as large as possible, the latter are interspersed with the semi-public green areas.

Visual artist Manfred Alois Mayr helped define surface colours and textures. Externally, the team chose a raw concrete façade, based on a special grain size and using mineral aggregates typical of the region (notably pale yellow and white dolomite). The street-side façades have been treated with a high-pressure water jet to bring out the grain structure of the concrete; the rough surface suggests the monolithic appearance of a ‘hard outer shell’ and accentuates the unity of the building block; the perception varies depending on the light and distance. The garden walls are treated with a thin veil of white paint that emphasises the area’s private character while seeming to enlarge the garden itself. The architectural and chromatic sobriety of the windows and railings increases the buildings’ sculptural effect. The simple, discreet tone of the materials is graduated from the entry areas to the doors of the individual flats. Through small details such as smooth, sensual wooden handrails, the materials create a feeling of warmth and comfort.

Blue Guides' Trentino and the South Tyrol, by Paul Blanchard, is now available as an ebook.

Artwork of the month: March. Murillo's Flower Girl

The Flower Girl by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1665–70)

Murillo (1617–82) was an artist from Seville who became especially known for his genre scenes featuring children, often street urchins. This work, which belongs to the collection of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, is an excellent example of the type. A pretty young girl offers freshly-picked roses to passers by (and to the viewer too, whom she fixes with a smiling, forthright gaze). The palette of browns, ochres and dusty pinks is very typical of the artist. This seems an appropriate palette for the month of March, too, when the trees are bare of leaves and the soil is still brown, but dustings of blossom have appeared and the first flowers are bursting forth, offering a promise of spring. Some critics have seen this offer of promise as suggestive of the young flower-seller’s character: she has tucked one of the roses into her headcloth. The roses are for sale and so is she. This interpretation possibly traduces both the sitter and the artist. Murillo painted the work for his friend and patron Justino de Neve, a canon at Seville cathedral, and it has been suggested that the sitter was his own daughter, Francisca, who would have been between 10 and 15 years old when this was painted. In 1671 she renounced worldly things and became a nun, taking the name of Francisca María de Santa Rosa, after St Rose of Lima, who had been canonised that same year. The embroidered shawl that the flower-seller wears, interestingly, has been identified as of a Peruvian type, which would have come to Seville from Lima. Murillo’s influence on later painters of the 18th century is well known. In Britain he was greatly admired by Gainsborough, who, according to the forthcoming Blue Guide London (18th edition), ‘did not enjoy being, as he put it, a ‘phizmonger’ (portrait-painter). Perhaps as a reaction to this, out of his landscapes he developed his so-called ‘fancy pictures’, rustic genre paintings of peasant children and the deserving poor, which sought to evoke emotion and sympathy in the viewer. In this he was much influenced by Murillo.’

Blue Guide London (18th ed.), with extensive coverage of Dulwich Picture Gallery and its excellent collection, will be published this summer.

Tastes change

Tastes change. “The greater part of the sculptures of the Vatican are dead,” wrote Sacheverell Sitwell in the 1930s. Grand Tourists had once gasped at those sculpted nymphs, gods and emperors. They had sought to procure similar examples for the gardens and galleries of their country seats. How could it be, then, that they stirred so little response in the shingle-headed, Oxford-bagged swells of his own generation? But no. They were dead. “Dead, and it is impossible to see how they can ever come to life again.”

Something similar has happened now with High Baroque painting. “Caravaggio to Canaletto” is a great sweep of an exhibition just closed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest. The title was artfully chosen because it names two artists in whom the public has a great deal of interest. And, unsurprisingly, the early rooms (with the nine Caravaggios on loan) and the last room (with the Canalettos) were full. Between the two, great halls were filled with works by scores of other artists, among them Guido Reni, Mattia Preti, Guercino, Carracci, Crespi. But the crowds were much thinner. Just imagine! Guido Reni was once, in the 19th century, one of the reasons why people went to Italy. “Second to nought observable in Rome” is how Browning described Reni’s Crucifixion above the high altar of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Nowadays I doubt many visitors notice that it’s there. It surely doesn’t make it into the Dorling Kindersley Top 10. Shelley was much struck by Guido Reni’s Beatrice Cenci and wrote his first play about the girl’s wretched fate. We’ve lost interest in Guido Reni now. But why does this happen?

The Romantic era, when Shelley was writing, was an age of great ‘sensibility’. Grown men did not think it ninnyish to write about daffodils. The Victorian era that followed was sentimental. A novelist could base his greatness on the creation of a character like Little Nell.

But these things all had their root in the Baroque.

Examine the painting at the top of this post. Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ of c. 1480. In it, we see a dead body, presented without fuss (but with extraordinary technique), with Mary Magdalene’s little jar of embalming oil tucked away at the back and the only emotion coming from the half-shown faces of the three anguished mourners. The spice jar is not just some random touch. It is there to show that the mourners had no idea that Jesus’ body would not decay. They fully believed that they needed to embalm it. This was the end of his life. Their grief is sincere and comfortless and ugly.

Mantegna was a master and his influence on succeeding generations of painters was great. But the two imitators whose works are shown below imitate only the component parts of the scene. They fail utterly to capture its sober and honest spirit. Why? Because their canvases are soaked with stoked up emotion and become pieces of propaganda as a result.

The first one is by a very accomplished artist: Annibale Carracci. It was painted about a century later than the Mantegna. There are no mourners. The focus is on the gory result of a gruesome execution. The nails and crown of thorns are placed beside the corpse, the body itself is liberally spattered with blood. It is very Counter Reformation. The aim is to ramp up the horror, to appeal to people’s guts rather than their brains, to win them to faith through sensation.

The other version (Orazio Borgianni, 1615) is twee. The oil jar has come to the foreground as a show-off example of how well the artist can render glass. Carracci’s nails are retained. But those are not its main faults. The problem is with the mourners. No longer do they keep a respectful distance, half out of the frame, but they clutch intemperately at the body, lean right over it, giving self-indulgent vent to their tears. Emoting. Inviting us all to have a mass cry-in. They are also young and beautiful. A lovely young woman or beauteous boy will pluck at the heart strings much more effectively than a haggard crone. Anyone in the promo business knows that.

Neither Caravaggio nor Canaletto puts this kind of “spin” on their subjects. That is why we like them. I think we are ready to go back to the Vatican sculptures. Cold stone which lets us draw our own conclusions. The High Baroque is too manipulative—and we see enough advertising in our daily lives. Let art be something nobler.

15.02.2014
22:41

Francesco Laurana's serene beauty

Many thanks to a reader from Sicily who recently sent an email about the famous bust of “Eleanor of Aragon” in Palermo’s Palazzo Abatellis. Not only in the Blue Guide, but in many other sources too, this work (c. 1489), by the Dalmatian-born master Francesco Laurana, has been taken to be a portrait of Eleanor of Aragon, daughter of the King of Naples and later wife of Ercole d’Este of Ferrara. On the website for the Region of Sicily’s Department of Culture, however, Alessandra Merra and Valeria Sola argue that the sculpture in fact represents somebody quite different. The full text can be read here, in Italian. For those who do not understand Italian, I’m summarising it below:

 

Laurana came to Sicily sometime around or before 1468, to Sciacca, summoned by the influential Carlo Luna (scion of a noble house of Aragonese descent), who had probably become acquainted with Laurana’s work at the court of the kings of Naples, themselves also descended from the royal house of Aragon. Laurana received his first Sicilian commissions from Luna, and the bust is not a portrait of Eleanor at all but of a different noblewoman entirely, the wife of Carlo Peralta, Count of Caltabellotta. She died in 1405 and was buried in the Abbey of Santa Maria del Bosco di Calatamauro. The bust stood on her tomb until its transfer to Palermo in the 19th century. The fact that the bust was a posthumous one (sculpted many decades after her death) makes it not a portrait but an idealised image of a virtuous lady, which explains its famously rarefied quality and formal rigour.

 

Any further thoughts?

Being Mithridates

Head of Mithridates in the guise of Hercules, in the Louvre. Photo © Eric Gaba.

The death of Mithridates VI Eupator, the last king of Pontus, in 63 BC marks both the culmination and the implosion of the dream of an independent Pontic state uniting the shores of the Black Sea under one ruler. Born c. 134 BC in Sinop, Mithridates spent his life pursuing his ambition. He probably saw himself as another Alexander but his roots were hardly Greek. He certainly had deep ties with Persia, beginning with his name meaning ‘gift of Mithras’; the kingdom he inherited may have included a stretch of Black Sea coast but was originally very much an inland state. As for Sinop, that foothold on the coast, it was lost to the Romans in 70 BC and later turned into a colony under the name of Colonia Julia Felix. Mithridates’s relentless pursuit of his destiny—which earned him the respect of modern-day Turks who see him as a national hero who put up a stubborn resistance to foreign (i.e. Roman) interference, as much has Atatürk did after WWI with the Greeks—is well known through the works of Appian on the Mithridatic wars and indirectly from Plutarch’s lives of Pompey and Lucullus. His name also crops up in other contemporary sources, such as Pliny the Elder and Celsus. He was clearly a figure larger than life and though he eventually failed, he held for a while in his rule large chunks of Asia Minor, the eastern and the northern coasts of the Black Sea, until he was defeated and committed suicide. He had already become a legend in is own lifetime, which goes some way to explain why he was honoured with a monument in Delos. It is thought that the Greek priest Helianax saw him as the right character to exhibit in order to improve the cosmopolitan feel of the sanctuary.

Mithridates was known not only for his military achievements: he pursued many sidelines. One does wonder how he found the time to take an interest in his six wives (the first one being his sister Laodicea, a choice expressing a very Persian concern with the purity of the line) and numerous concubines. Mithridates was a linguist and prided himself on being able to address each of his subjects in his or her own language. According to Pliny, that required a total of 22 different languages. He also had a fixation on poisons—and quite rightly so. He had witnessed his own father, Mithridates V, succumb to poison at a banquet. Poison or the fear of poison was common in antiquity. So he set about looking for a remedy, and as prevention is better than cure, he hit on the idea of taking regular sub-lethal doses to make himself immune. Celsus thought this method worth including in his publication on medicine. Moreover, in his quest for an antidote Mithridates made his name in the field of botany (a couple of plants are named after him). Pliny himself, however, did not think much of his universal antidote made of dried walnuts, figs and rue pounded together with a pinch of salt, nor of the enhanced version with 54 different ingredients.

After a spell in the wilderness at the end of the Classical era, Mithridates re-emerged as one of the illustrious men whose fates Boccaccio wrote about in the early 14th century. At the beginning of the 17th century an unknown Italian cleric composed a tragedy about him; this found its way to the French court and eventually inspired Racine. His Mithridate, a tragedy of love, jealousy and treachery, was a hot favourite with Louis XIV; the Mithridates Riding to Battle with his Concubine Hypsicratea, which Antoine Paillet painted at Versailles in 1642, is probably no coincidence. Racine’s work was translated into Italian by Parini and Alessandro Scarlatti put it to music. The première was held in Venice in 1707. After that, libretti and operas on the tragic king multiplied. There were some 25 of them floating around when Mozart set about writing his own Mithridates King of Pontus in 1770. It was his first opera seria and was an instant success. He was barely 14.

Paola Pugsley’s Pontic Provinces of Turkey will be published by Blue Guides as an ebook later this year. Her Blue Guide Southeastern Turkey and Blue Guide Eastern Turkey were published last year. See here for details.

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Copyrighting Heritage
Food is the new Florence
A Grumpy Visit to Westminster Abbey
The Honey Of Hybla
So what is the Turkish Van?
The Pike: by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Smoothly off the buffers
Under Another Sky
'Art under Attack' at Tate Britain
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Renaissance art from Florence to Paris and back
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Hepworth's "Winged Figure": 50th anniversary
Tying the Knot in Urfa
Venice and the Politcs of Washing
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Turin restored and rejuvenated
A palatial art museum in Trieste
The cloisters of Santa Maria Novella
The wonderful Palazzo Grimani, Venice
Pope Benedict: an unorthodox farewell
Obscure St Valentine and his famous Feast Day
Burano in February
The St Agnes lambs
Leonardo’s “Adoration of the Magi” in restoration
Cathedral picks: Exeter
The real Patrick Leigh Fermor?
The joy of Giambattista Tiepolo
Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari”
In praise of Venice’s water transport system
The Red Rooms at the Uffizi
The Blue Rooms at the Uffizi
A trip to the Port of Trajan, outside Rome
Pour l’honneur de la France
An early-morning visit to Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, Rome
Church of SS Luca e Martina reopens above Roman Forum
How the tide turned at the Milvian Bridge
A compelling reason to visit Trapani province
St Augustine and his mother at Ostia
Visiting St Paul’s in London
Hadrian, Antinoüs and the Christian Fathers
Earliest-known image of a martyrdom
Can’t face the Vatican crowds? Try San Lorenzo
Turin, Pisa and mathematics
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On Canaletto and Guardi and Venetian Light
Mithraism: a Roman Mystery Religion
Random Musings on Pontormo and Vermeer
The Amphitheatre of Londinium
Edward Lear and Crete
A handful of favourite things to see in Sicily
The mystery of the veiled virgins
Venice without the crowds
Cividale del Friuli and the Lombards
The Trouble with Snake Goddesses
The tragedy of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
Oranges, lemons and relic cults: an escape from the queues...
City Picks: Verona
Hitherto unknown language discovered in east Anatolia
Painting of the Day
Museo Barracco: a little-visited gem
Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome
Staten Island: Upcoming Exhibition …
International Gothic at the Uffizi
Celebrating Santa Rosalia, patron of Palermo
Delhi Ghost Trail
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The Roman Villa at Balácapuszta (Baláca, Nemesvámos,...
The Bard of….Messina? Was Shakespeare Sicilian?
Rereading Ruskin
Sicily’s emblem: the Trinacria
Luca Signorelli on exhibition in Umbria
The Tribuna of the Uffizi reopens
The Venice equivalent of the anonymous Tweet?
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Sicilian Holiday Reading
Attila the Hun and the Foundation of Venice
Death in Venice cocktail a hit
The Gentry: Stories of the English
381 years ago this June
Brooklyn Bridge: a New York landmark
A Venetian Update
Sixth-century church to reopen
Roman Aquileia
Springtime in Friuli
Northern Italy dining and accommodation recommendations
Al Dente: Madness, Beauty & the Food of Rome
A celebration of Lucca
Romantic music in a Baroque setting
Blue Guide India Delhi Launch
Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life
The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution
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The Roman Forum
Whispering City: Rome and its Histories
The 15th-century Health Museum at Edirne
City of Fortune, How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
Books about Istanbul
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Constantine: Unconquered Emperor, Christian Victor
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The 54th Venice Biennale stars Tintoretto
Holy Bones, Holy Dust
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO STAY AND EAT ON CRETE
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity
Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us
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Familiar face
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Blue Guide Northern Italy
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A day trip to Ostia Antica from Rome - highly recommended
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A day trip from Venice up the Brenta Canal
A day trip to Murano from Venice
Pietrasanta, Pisa: in search of Stagi
Reading list for Venice
Reading list for Florence and Tuscany
The Best Credit / Debit Card for Travel
Ruskin on Venice
Reading list for Rome
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