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At Eton

Charles Hope, 7 March 2013

... Henry VI had an unusually long reign, but on most counts a singularly unfortunate one. He lost the lands gained in France by his father Henry V, he became embroiled in the Wars of the Roses, his son was killed and he himself died in mysterious circumstances as a prisoner in the Tower of London. Although lacking the qualities required in an effective monarch, he proved to be an outstanding patron of education, founding Eton College in 1440 and in the following year a college in Cambridge, now known as King’s College ...

At the National Gallery

Charles Hope: ‘Making Colour’, 17 July 2014

... Apart​ from the chance invention of Prussian blue soon after 1700, the range of colours available to artists changed very little until the 19th century, when modern chemistry came into its own. Painters, of course, were not the only or, in most cases, the main consumers of these colours. They were used, for example, in the dyeing of cloth, the production of ceramics and for the decoration of all types of object, including buildings and sculpture as well as products for domestic use ...

At the National Gallery

Charles Hope: Barocci, 9 May 2013

... Successful artists are usually attracted to major cities, where reputations are most easily made and commissions most abundant. Barocci was a conspicuous exception. Born in the 1530s in the provincial backwater of Urbino, the birthplace also of Raphael, he completed his training in Rome, but then, probably in 1563, returned to his native town, where he remained for almost the whole of his life, dying there in 1612 ...

At the National Gallery

Charles Hope: ‘Titian’s First Masterpiece’, 24 May 2012

... The small exhibition at the National Gallery entitled Titian’s First Masterpiece: ‘The Flight into Egypt’, open until 19 August, is centred on a large canvas from the Hermitage. The picture has not been much discussed by scholars. This is partly because it has just emerged from a lengthy restoration, partly because it is known to most specialists mainly or only through photographs, and not least because it does not look much like any other painting generally accepted as by Titian ...

At the National Gallery

Charles Hope: Veronese, 8 May 2014

... For anyone​ wishing to organise an exhibition of his works, Veronese presents a particular challenge. He was exceedingly prolific and many of his best paintings are too large to be moved. He also employed a team of able assistants, whose contribution to individual pictures is generally hard if not impossible to assess. The Veronese show now at the National Gallery (until 15 June) is the largest devoted to him since one held in Venice in 1939, and it is striking that of the forty pictures not from the gallery’s own collection, half were also displayed in that earlier exhibition, not because in every case they are of exceptional quality, but because their owners are prepared to lend them ...

At the Royal Academy

Charles Hope: Giovanni Battista Moroni , 8 January 2015

... The assessment​ of Giovanni Battista Moroni written in 1648 by Carlo Ridolfi, his first biographer, has never been seriously challenged. Ridolfi says that Moroni, a pupil of Alessandro Moretto of Brescia, had a natural gift for portraiture, and it was through his portraits rather than his religious paintings that his reputation had survived. He adds that portraits do not belong in the first rank of painting, since they do not give the artist full scope to demonstrate his talent, because he is obliged to paint what he sees; but when they are good likenesses and skilfully painted they can only be praised ...

Made in Venice

Charles Hope, 2 April 1981

Andrea Schiavone 
by Francis Richardson.
Oxford, 225 pp., £30, April 1980, 0 19 817332 6
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... With the hyperbole typical of the guidebook writer, Francesco Sansovino asserted in 1561: ‘Take it from me, there are more pictures in Venice than in all the rest of Italy.’ This is obviously not true, but it is almost certainly the case that during the 16th century more oil paintings were produced in Venice than in any other city of Europe. Many were undistinguished, but virtually all of them, as contemporaries everywhere recognised, reflected a distinctive local tradition whose best representatives were among the outstanding artists of their day ...

At the Ashmolean

Charles Hope: Raphael’s Drawings, 27 July 2017

... Within​ a generation of Raphael’s death in 1520 it was widely recognised that his career, along with those of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, marked a turning point in the development of painting in Italy and, by implication, in the rest of Europe. As Pierre-Jean Mariette remarked in 1729, in the so-called Recueil Crozat, a lavish collection of reproductions of famous European paintings, this was ‘the time in which, as everyone knows, the fine arts emerged from their tombs ...

At the Royal Academy

Charles Hope: Giorgione, 31 March 2016

... for a statement so weighted with critical responsibility is not the job of a simple letter. I hope to be able to do this in due course, in a proper essay, where my earlier opinions on the Master, often exploited (sometimes without quoting the source) by more recent scholars, will be given a more strictly personal justification. But all he did was to ...

Whose giraffe?

Charles Hope, 21 March 1985

Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art: Pontormo, Leo X and the Two Cosimos 
by Janet Cox-Rearick.
Princeton, 700 pp., £100.50, October 1984, 0 691 04023 0
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... As visitors to the recent exhibition of Dutch art at the Royal Academy will know, emblems, once the province of antiquarians, are now of great interest to historians of art. For more than a decade scholars have argued that these combinations of a motto, a picture and an explanatory poem, pointing a simple moral lesson, provide a key to the understanding of Dutch painting of the 17th century ...

Canons and Conveniences

Charles Hope, 21 February 1980

Ideals and Idols 
by E.H. Gombrich.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £9.95, November 1980, 0 7148 2009 1
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... Sir Ernst Gombrich is not only one of the very few historians of art now alive whose ideas have aroused wide interest outside his immediate discipline, but he is also an astonnishingly skilful lecturer. It is therefore only appropriate that he should so often have been invited to give those formal university lectures devoted to the discussion of general cultural issues ...

At the National Gallery

Charles Hope: Lorenzo Lotto, 3 January 2019

... For centuries​ the reputation of Venetian Renaissance painters largely depended on the comments made about them in Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. Vasari was in Venice for several months in 1542, but he was evidently unaware that Lorenzo Lotto, a generation older than him, was also living there and that they had acquaintances in common. During his visit he made notes about a couple of paintings by Lotto in the city, but recorded nothing about his life, so the account that he provided in the first edition of his book, published in 1550, was only a paragraph long ...

A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?, 2 January 2020

Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... the provenance by Margaret Dalivalle. She had originally proposed that the picture had belonged to Charles I and had been acquired for £30 – a rather low sum – by a certain John Stone after the execution of the king in 1649, when it was described as ‘a peece of Christ done by Leonardo’. This fitted with an earlier theory that a Salvator Mundi by ...

Help with His Drawing

Charles Hope: Is It Really Sebastiano?, 20 April 2017

Michelangelo & Sebastiano 
At the National Gallery, until 24 June 2018Show More
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... The collaboration​ between Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo, the theme of the beautiful if rather didactic exhibition now at the National Gallery, is one of the strangest episodes in the history of Renaissance art. Sebastiano was born in Venice around 1485, ten years after Michelangelo. Aged about twenty, Sebastiano became attracted by the work of another young local artist, Giorgione ...

Naming the Graces

Charles Hope, 15 March 1984

The Art of Humanism 
by Kenneth Clark.
Murray, 198 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 7195 4077 1
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The Eloquence of Symbols: Studies in Humanist Art 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 135 pp., £25, January 1984, 0 19 817341 5
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... In the last forty years Kenneth Clark did more than anyone else to create an interest in the art of Renaissance Italy, but Edgar Wind had a much greater influence on the way in which this art has been studied. Both men were outstanding lecturers and gifted writers, and both, in very different ways, were influenced by the work of Aby Warburg. Both, too, were particularly drawn to the early Renaissance in Florence and to the High Renaissance in Rome, to those masterpieces, in fact, which occupy the central place in the English and American canon of great art ...

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