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2 July 1998
by David Ekserdjian.
Yale, 334 pp., £45, January 1997, 0 300 07299 6
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The ‘Divine’ Guido 
by Richard Spear.
Yale, 436 pp., £40, January 1997, 0 300 07035 7
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... old men is painted with extraordinary delicacy and is itself unusually delicate, tender and thus vulnerable. There may be some 20th-century art which would help us to understand Reni’s paintings. RichardSpear illustrates and discusses popular devotional aids which derive ultimately from Reni’s example, and it might also be revealing to examine the devices of glamour, star and society photographs ...

Make Something Happen!

Julian Bell: Paint Serious, Paint Big

2 December 2010
Salvator Rosa: Bandits, Wilderness and Magic 
by Helen Langdon, Xavier Salomon and Caterina Volpi.
Paul Holberton, 240 pp., £40, September 2010, 978 1 907372 01 8
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Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of 17th-Century Italian Painters 
by Richard Spear and Philip Sohm et al.
Yale, 384 pp., £45, 0 300 15456 9
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Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane 
by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
Allen Lane, 514 pp., £30, July 2010, 978 0 7139 9674 6
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The Moment of Caravaggio 
by Michael Fried.
Princeton, 304 pp., £34.95, 0 691 14701 9
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... then there was a gap, till the next genius’). Or are those all we need, in fact, if we happen to be writing the history of art? Three recent books bear on these issues. The Seicento specialists RichardSpear and Philip Sohm have put together Painting for Profit: The Economic Lives of 17th-Century Italian Painters, which explores what new co-ordinates one current academic strategy has to deliver ...


Jonathan Barnes

9 July 1987
Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science 
by Richard​ Sorabji.
Duckworth, 253 pp., £29.50, February 1987, 0 7156 2089 4
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... As a theologian, he was embroiled in the doctrinal disputes of the time, championing the monophysite cause and espousing tritheism. As a philosopher, he was most remarkable – as the title of Richard Sorabji’s splendid book indicates – for his rejection of various parts of the dominant Aristotelian view of the physical universe. According to Aristotle, the heavens are made of ‘ether’, a ...

Boys wearing wings

Nicholas Penny

15 March 1984
by Howard Hibbard.
Thames and Hudson, 404 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 500 09161 7
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Circa 1600: A Revolution of Style in Italian Painting 
by S.J. Freedberg.
Harvard, 125 pp., £21.25, January 1983, 0 674 13156 8
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by Richard Spear.
Yale, 382 pp., £75, November 1982, 0 300 02359 6
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... it attracts only the very sophisticated and perhaps the very simple. A surfeit of Caravaggio may provide the best condition for a revaluation of Domenichino. In any case, it is impossible to study Spear’s superbly illustrated monograph without admiration for Spear’s – and Domenichino’s – consistently judicious discrimination and scholarly dedication to the highest traditional ideals ...

Lingering and Loitering

Benjamin Kunkel: Javier Marías

3 December 2009
Your Face Tomorrow 3: Poison, Shadow and Farewell 
by Javier Marías, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
Chatto, 545 pp., £18.99, November 2009, 978 0 7011 8342 4
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... was said, and then only briefly: while we travel slowly towards our dissolution merely in order to traverse the back or reverse side of time. ‘Tomorrow in the battle think on me’ is plucked from Richard III, and the evocation of Shakespeare (whose lines supply the titles of several of Marías’s books) is not the pretension it may seem. In Spanish, where one can multiply negatives without ...
5 August 2004
Finding an Ending: Reflections on Wagner’s ‘Ring’ 
by Philip Kitcher and Richard​ Schacht.
Oxford, 241 pp., £14.99, April 2004, 0 19 517359 7
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... something about the Ring that draws; rightly or wrongly, it suggests depths to plumb. What depths? What could possibly be down there? Two new fish have risen to this bait. Philip Kitcher and Richard Schacht’s Finding an Ending proceeds from their conviction that ‘Wagner’s libretto, ponderous and mannered though it may sometimes seem (and be), is charged with life and significance.’ They ...


Charles Nicholl: At the Maison Rimbaud in Harar

16 March 2000
... of this coin. It is a fairly general rule that the picturesque is based on someone else’s inconvenience. Harar is a walled city, self-contained. Though you are no longer required to leave your spear at the city gates, you are still very much an outsider here. Only two Europeans have made any impact, in the sense that their names are known and recognised. One is the English explorer Richard ...

On the Beaches

Richard​ White: In Indian Country

21 March 2002
Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America 
by Daniel Richter.
Harvard, 317 pp., £17.95, January 2002, 0 674 00638 0
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... we are not sure if this is the first time these particular Florida natives have encountered horses.’ Walter would have asked about the horses. He would have stepped in as a Timucuan was about to spear a Spanish horse, and said: ‘Excuse me, sir, excuse me, sir, but is this your first experience with this animal?’ The Timucuan would have answered; the mystery would be cleared up. Richter doesn ...

Eaglets v. Chickens

Richard​ White: The history of the Sioux

3 June 2004
The Sioux: The Dakota and Lakota Nations 
by Guy Gibbon.
Blackwell, 311 pp., £30, December 2002, 1 55786 566 3
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... language’. Eventually, there were four divisions: the Dakota in the east, the Yankton and Yanktonai further west, and the Lakota, the classic mounted horsemen of the Great Plains who formed the spear-point of Sioux expansion. The Dakota, in turn, were subdivided into four tribes: the Mdewakanton, Wapekute, Sisseton and Wahpeton. The Lakota were subdivided into seven tribes: the Brulé, Oglala ...

‘Equality exists in Valhalla’

Richard​ J. Evans: German Histories

4 December 2014
Germany: Memories of a Nation 
by Neil MacGregor.
Allen Lane, 598 pp., £30, November 2014, 978 0 241 00833 1
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Germany: Memories of a Nation 
British Museum, until 25 January 2015Show More
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... knight but also its appropriation by Wagner and the exploitation of Wagner’s work by ultra-nationalists, anti-Semites and Nazis. We see Kiefer’s cot against the wooden background of his studio; a spear and two swords, one blood-stained, the other shattered, are sticking into the floor. There is no triumph or glory here, just a prosaic assemblage of symbols. The memories of the German nation remain ...

Nuts about the Occult

Richard​ J. Evans: ‘Hitler’s Monsters’

2 August 2018
Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich 
by Eric Kurlander.
Yale, 422 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 300 23454 1
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... did Hitler delegate the task of finding the Holy Grail to Himmler? Why didn’t he lead the search himself?’ ‘A lot of researchers say that Hitler was obsessed with searching for the Holy Spear … Where had it been before the Nazi Party came to power?’ ‘Did the Third Reich have highly qualified magicians?’ Were they the ones who made ‘the Nazi gold’ vanish? Had they caused the ...

Still Dithering

Norman Dombey: After Trident

16 December 2010
... to replace them’? The reason seems to be that Gordon Brown was eager to create jobs for BAE shipbuilders in the North-West, while Blair wanted to ensure that the UK would continue in its role as spear-carrier to the US. The US first agreed to provide the UK with submarine-launched ballistic missiles – the Polaris system – at Nassau in December 1962. They insisted the missiles be assigned to ...
3 April 1997
The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... to rebut his critics. It seems to him that English reviewers in particular were inclined to be contemptuous or dismissive, so some venerable commentators – the late Lawrence Gowing, Michael Levey, Richard Wollheim, Marina Warner and, singled out for a special treatment, Charles Hope – are, in this new edition, keenly reprehended. It should be said that Steinberg, a lively and resourceful writer ...

Blood Running Down

Helen Cooper: Iconoclasm and theatre in early modern England

9 August 2001
The Idolatrous Eye: Iconoclasm and Theatre in Early Modern England 
by Michael O'Connell.
Oxford, 198 pp., £30, February 2000, 9780195132052
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... of fall, bitter consequences and ultimate redemption – the pattern that goes from the domestic strife that loses France and divides England to the triumph of the Tudors, and from the deposition of Richard II to the glories of Henry V. It is there, too, in the assumption that when the actors talk of horses, the spectators do see them printing their proud hoofs in the receiving earth. If you have been ...

Brave as hell

John Kerrigan

21 June 1984
Enderby’s Dark Lady, or No End to Enderby 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 160 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 156050 0
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Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Modern Edition 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Macmillan, 311 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 333 36386 8
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... and archaic turns of phrase. Moreover, following Dedalus’s example in Ulysses, Burgess insists that Shakespeare was trapped into marriage with Anne Hathaway and then cuckolded by his brother Richard. Hence the queen in Hamlet, adulterous with her brother-in-law, while Shakespeare plays the ghost; and hence Richard III, where sly Dick seduces Lady Anne. Perhaps the Joycean influence became ...

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