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A Striking Ceremony

An Egyptian Feast by the British painter Edwin Longsden Long ( 1829-1891). A colorful, exotic scenery, using the latest archaeological and historical insights.

Famous Paintings: Smoke of Ambergris

Smoke of Ambergris is a rarity in John Singer Sargent paintings - it is his take on Orientalist art. The Orient, encompassing present-day Greece, Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, had captivated Western artists for centuries....Show More Summary

Toscanini and the Lusitania - there but for the grace of God go I

Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957) was born in Parma where he studied the cello and later was selected to play in the orchestra of an Italian opera company. In 1886, the teenager conducted his first opera, sur­prising everyone with how well he managed the orchestra. Show More Summary


The Second Battle of Guararapes by the Brazilian painter Victor Meirelles (1832-1903). The Second Battle of Guararapes was the second and decisive battle in the war between the Dutch West India Company and Portuguese forces in 1649, ending the Dutch occupation of the Portuguese colony of Brazil.

How a British prince became a German duke.. and fought against Britain!

I believed it was impossible to learn accurate hist­ory from a tv programme. Wrong!!! The Channel 4 documentary “Hitler's Favourite Royal” traced the tragic tale of how a member of the British Royal Family was forced against his will...Show More Summary

20 Louvre Paintings Not to Miss

With 9.2 million visitors in 2013, the Louvre was the most frequently visited art museum in the world. Although the Louvre collection consists of some 38,000 objects from prehistory through the 19th century, visitors primarily come to see the renowned collection of Louvre paintings in this 100 acre (40 hectare) art museum. Paolo Uccello. Show More Summary

How Mickalene Thomas Breaks Up the Modernist Boys Club

When Pablo Picasso and other early modernists appropriated elements of so-called “primitive” African art for Cubist and proto-Cubist works such as 1907’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon they perpetrated a kind of artistic colonialism similar to the economic colonialism that brought back African treasures to French museums and galleries in the first place. Show More Summary

images of Scottish-Australian history

What has Scotland got to do with the development of Australia? Quite a lot, according to the Art Gallery of Ballarat which has mounted a special exhibition to the relationship between Australia and Scotland, right up to Federation (1/1/1901). Show More Summary

Patriotic Victory

Andreas Hofer after his victory of Bergisel (1900) by the Austrian artist Franz von Defregger (1835-1921). Defregger depicts here members the Tirolean militias in their uprising against the Napoleonic oppression. It's the people in arms, very popular at the eve of World War I.

"a conspiracy of Christian goodness" in WW2 France

France had a mixed history when it came to its own Jewish community. Consider the splitting of France into the anti-Semitic German-occupied north and the anti-Semitic Vichy government in the unoccupied South (1940-42). Despite the heroic...Show More Summary

Paul McCartney’s Seventies Struggle to Escape the Beatles

During the 1960s, four of the most famous people on Earth were collectively known as The Beatles. Most people struggle to deal with the post-fame life, but how do you live as an ex-Beatle? In Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s, Tom Doyle asks that very question of the life of the “cute Beatle,” Paul McCartney. Show More Summary

J.M.Barrie's house-museum in Scotland

James Barrie (1860–1937) was the child of a Calvinist family of weavers from Kirriemuir in Angus, close to the Scottish city of Dundee. There were 10 children born to David Barrie and his wife Margaret, so I can­not see how the 10 people (two children died) could live in the two rooms of the white cottage that is now the JM Barrie Museum. Show More Summary

A Proud Nude

Isabelle and Orleans (1938) by the great Australian artist Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). The French Princess Isabella of Valois (1387-1410) was the daughter of King Charles VI. Her childhood marriage at the age of eight to Richard II of England sought peace between the two counties. Show More Summary

an Australian socialist utopia in Paraguay - 1893-1900

I have noted before that the concept of ideal communities, be they religious, socialist, feminist, temperance, environmental or even industrial, is very appealing. The Fruitlands project, for example, occurred at a time (the 1840s) when Utopian communities were popping up with some frequency in New England. Show More Summary

Was There a Seventies "Sexplosion" in the Arts?

“Today, full frontal nudity is more common on cable TV than cigarette smoking is in office buildings,” writes Robert Hofler in Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange—How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos, his fascinating study of how we got to this point. Show More Summary

Can a Classic Museum Really Be Made Modern?

Every new cultural institution hopes for “The Bilbao Effect”—the economic boom the faltering, former industrial city of Bilbao, Spain, enjoyed after the 1997 rise of architect Frank Gehry’s game-changing design for the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. Show More Summary

Ongoing story of the Alfred Dreyfus Affair: 1894-2014

I have written and lectured many times about the Dreyfus Affair that hit France from 1894 to 1906. But it has largely been from the perspective of the artists, writers and cultural salons, or the politicians and military men who took a stance on Captain Alfred Dreyfus (1859–1935), for or against. Show More Summary

Epic Battle

The battle of Salamis by the German romantic painter Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Theodor Kaulbach (1822-1839). Even the gods are taking arms in this legendary battle between Orient and Okzident.

Esther before the King

Esther before the King by the ItalianBaroque painter Andrea Celesti (1637-1712).

Spies, Writers and Artists in Hampstead

I have just read the fascinating book The Lawn Road Flats by historian David Burke (Boydell, 2014). The firm Isokon (Isometric Unit Construc­tion Control Co) was established to make modern flats, houses and furniture. Their Lawn Road Flats in Bel­size Park in Hampstead was a remark­able building that I knew and loved. Show More Summary

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