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Bidding for favours

Nicholas Penny, 19 December 1991

The Altarpiece in Renaissance Italy 
by Jacob Burckhardt, edited and translated by Peter Humfrey.
Phaidon, 249 pp., £75, October 1988, 0 7148 2477 1
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The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy 
by Jacob Burckhardt, translated by S.G. Middlemore.
Penguin, 389 pp., £7.99, December 1991, 9780140445343
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The Altarpiece in the Renaissance 
edited by Peter Humfrey and Martin Kemp.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £35, February 1991, 0 521 36061 7
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Painting in Renaissance Siena 
by Keith Christiansen, Laurence Kanter and Carl Stehlke.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 386 pp., $45, July 1989, 0 8109 1473 5
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... Today the Roman Catholic priest celebrating Mass stands on the far side of the altar, facing the congregation, in accordance with the prescription of the Second Vatican Council of 1963. In doing so he is adopting the position which was normal before the 13th century. On the modern altar an altarpiece is an impossibility: it would get in the way. It was the same in 1200 ...

Who framed Madame Moitessier?

Nicholas Penny, 9 April 1992

Metropolitan Jewellery 
by Sophie McConnell.
Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bulfinch, 111 pp., £17.99, November 1991, 0 8212 1877 8
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Italian Renaissance Frames 
by Timothy Newbery, George Bisacca and Laurence Kanter.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 111 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 8109 3455 8
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The Italian Renaissance Interior 1400-1600 
by Peter Thornton.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £65, October 1991, 0 297 83006 6
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Palaces of Art 
edited by Giles Waterfield.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, 188 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 9501564 5 0
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... The pale blue, wide-open eyes of Madame Jacques-Louis Leblanc, under their large geometrically-perfect lids, are placed high on the canvas, to the left of its centre, and it seems a great distance down her long neck and the gently undulating slopes of her black satin dress – over which a gold watch-chain drops, and beside which a languid arm, veiled in tulle, is arranged – to her hand in the lower right corner of the painting, which reposes upon a diamond rivière, as upon a tiny pet, half-concealed in the folds of what must be her lap ...

Like Mannequins

Charles Hope: Luca Signorelli, 20 December 2012

The Life and Art of Luca Signorelli 
by Tom Henry.
Yale, 456 pp., £50, 9780300179262
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... provided the catalogue entries for a 2002 book on Signorelli written with another art historian, Laurence Kanter. One can understand why he didn’t wish to produce a new catalogue, but this is a feature of artistic monographs that retains its value, since such books are more often consulted than read from cover to cover. It is particularly unfortunate ...

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