I spend many of my weekends visiting other European cities with my Italian wife. This year we have so far been to Munich (twice), Berlin, Dresden, Amsterdam, Den Bosch, Nuremburg, Venice and Forli’. We’ve also got plans to visit Vienna, Dublin, Naples, Verona and Milan. We love European art, culture and cuisine. We both have decent jobs and live in London. We are not little Englanders. I read economics at UCL and my wife works for an American investment bank so neither are we economically illiterate, despite Osborne’s claims! All in all we ought to be solid Remainers. That we are not says so much about the nature of our referendum debate. Continue reading Why I’m voting Leave to take back control
This past weekend I travelled 485 miles from London to Frankfurt to see an art exhibition. But how I first knew about it was purely chance. Continue reading More Maniera Please
Why are we so drawn to Rembrandt? He is one of the few old masters who you could be confident the non-art fan might recognise. Like today’s superstar politicians, Boris or Obama, he needs no name other than Rembrandt. I can’t but feel that it has something to do with his universality. There is something in him which we can all like. The confidence of youth as he makes his way in the world. The good time Rembrandt, out enjoying himself with his beautiful young wife in the Prodigal Son in a Brothel, or the old Rembrandt, slightly saggy and down on his luck, yet radiating a quiet dignity. Every stage of life is there for us to see. Continue reading Here’s looking at me: Rembrandt by himself
Books are such a rich accompaniment to life. A trip or holiday is so often enhanced by what we are reading. I can still recall what I was reading when I got engaged to my wife whilst in Florence. I don’t really understand the kindle as anything other than a device to beat the weight limit of our airport luggage. For me there is a simple unadulterated joy in placing the finished book, preferably hardback, on the shelf. Not very enjoyable – and the book may eventually make the second unseen row. A great or interesting tome might also find a place next to classics like Brideshead Revisited, to which I have returned again and again. Continue reading A pocket size hit
It’s no exaggeration to say that around every corner of Venice you can meet an unexpected pleasure, a beautiful little church, an impressively grand palazzo or one of the many breath-taking views. It is also an art lovers’ paradise. Not far from the Grand Canal and a short walk Galleria d’Accademia lies such a treasure. Palazzo Cini has in the last 12 months been further enhanced with a new group of art works from the original Cini collection. So it’s a place that may have escaped the visitors’ attention. I’ve been to Venice many times in recent years but knew nothing of the Palazzo Cini. Hardly a surprise, as it only reopened to the public at the beginning of April 2016. Continue reading Palazzo Cini the new jewel in Venice
One of the many great joys of having an Italian wife is the not infrequent trips to see La Bella Italia. Recently that took me to the small, yet not all together uninteresting, city of Forli’. It’s not on the main tourist trail but it has in recent years been putting on a series of crowd pulling exhibitions. The present ‘Exploring a legend’ in the converted convent Dominican church and now Musei di San Domenico is on Piero della Francesca. Continue reading Piero Della Francesca: exploring a legend in Forli
It would be an iconic sight to see Tooting, home of Citizen Smith, captured by the Conservative party. Corbyn supporters would find it very difficult to explain how a message which didn’t work in Tooting had any chance of being successful in the dozens of marginals he needs to win outside London – in areas like the Midlands. Young, metropolitan and diverse, this ought to be a seat Labour can hold.
The Merton & Wandsworth GLA constituency seat won for the first time by Labour’s Leonie Cooper strengthens that argument. Even in the dark days of William Hague Continue reading Can Tooting turn Blue?
“He is very old, yet, he is still the best painter of them all” – Albrecht Dürer – Visiting Venice for a second time in 1506
We live at a point in time at which we are fortunate to witness some big landmark commemorations. 2016 has already seen the 400th anniversary of death of William Shakespeare and the 500th anniversary of the passing of Hieronymus Bosch. Sadly, and this isn’t just a reflection on the disorder of the Italians, there are no such plans (at least as far as I am aware) at any major institutions to commemorate Giovani Bellini who died in November 1516. Continue reading After 500 years Bellini deserves so much more than a lone drunk
My first encounter with Giorgione didn’t start well. It was a scorching August day and as the audio guide droned on I failed to see what all the fuss was about as crowds thronged to get close to ‘The Tempest’. Nine years later I can readily admit that I was wrong. I still don’t like The Tempest but I do like Giorgione. He hasn’t changed but I certainly have. Last autumn Alessandra and I even made the pilgrimage to his pretty little hometown Castelfranco Veneto to see the magnificent Castlefranco Madonna and the little Museo Giorgione dedicated to his life and works.
In the Age of Giorgione at the Royal Academy is a gem of an exhibition. Simply drop your other plans and insist on going. Continue reading Grappling with the great Giorgione
I’m rarely disappointed by exhibitions at the National Gallery. Indeed, the first exhibition which began my love of art was in that very place. Since 2005 and Caravaggio: The Final Years my addiction has been regularly topped up by the fantastic displays it has to offer. Both Leonardo: Painter at the Court of Milan and Rembrandt: The Late Works come so easily to mind. Each conjures a rich tapestry of images and I still treasure the catalogues to this day.
The permanent collection is equally a treat. For me the space takes on a quality somewhat akin to a sacred space. Continue reading A Rare Disappointment at the National Gallery