The Good Tutor

"Oath of the Horatii" by Jacques-Louis David, source: Wikimedia Commons

I have never forgotten her passionate account of the “Oath of the Horatii”, her petite form taking on the pose of the triplet brothers as they made their patriotic vow. “Oath of the Horatii” by Jacques-Louis David, source: Wikimedia Commons

I was deeply moved to read the obituaries of art historian and author Anita Brookner earlier this week. Dr Brookner was teaching at the Courtauld Institute in the mid-1980s and as an undergraduate student there I took her course on eighteenth century French painting. She cut a slightly distanced figure at the time, poised to lead the seminars in her study at the top of a narrow staircase above the Witt Photographic Library in the Courtauld’s Portman Square building. With her bouffant red hair, thick mascara, pressed cashmere sweaters and pencil skirts she appeared like an elegant vision from two decades previously, wreathed in expensive perfume. Continue reading

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Collecting Contemporary: Collections as Conversations

Timepieces (2014), Katie Paterson Part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection. Installed in the Edinburgh College of Art Main Building.

Timepieces (2014), Katie Paterson
Part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection. Installed in the Edinburgh College of Art Main Building.

It was good to attend the Collecting Contemporary event in the University of Edinburgh’s Playfair Library on 16th February 2016 which included a preview of the upcoming Collecting Contemporary website, and coincided with both the inaugural publication of Affiliate’s new imprint and the opening week of British Art Show 8, showing in the adjacent Talbot Rice Gallery, Inverleith House and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Continue reading

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Luxury and Greed

View of Florence. Image by Artur Staszewski, used under a Creative Commons license: http://bit.ly/view-of-florence

View of Florence by Artur Staszewski http://bit.ly/view-of-florence (Creative Commons License)

Last week, as a member of the Leverhulme Trust International Luxury Network, I attended the latest of a series of Network conferences. This one was hosted at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti and the European University Institute at the Villa Schifanoia in Florence. Continue reading

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Scottish Colourists and Miss Jean Brodie

People and Sails by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

“People and Sails” by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

I read two interesting articles in this weekend’s newspapers: in the Financial Times there was a review of the exhibition of JD Fergusson’s paintings at Chichester’s fantastic Pallant House Gallery, and in the Guardian there was a recollection by Penelope Jardine of her life in Italy with novelist Muriel Spark, written to coincide with a new collection of essays by Spark (The Golden Fleece), edited by Jardine. Reading these in tandem, in an Edinburgh made even more beautiful than usual by uncharacteristic unbroken sunshine, brought home to me the very particular character of a city that I have only called home for three years, but which is increasingly opening up its reticent personality to me in the manner of a slowly developing friendship. Continue reading

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Poster Art of Modern China

Chinese Poster

Part of a Chinese poster from 1964, depicting a harvest scene.
The caption reads ‘Achieve great harvest every year’.

Last Friday morning I opened an international conference at ECA focusing on Poster Art of Modern China and coinciding with the continuing exhibition on the same theme in Chambers Street. Continue reading

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