Art

The many faces of William ‘Slasher’ Blake

14 September 2019 9:00 am

‘Imagination is my world.’ So wrote William Blake. His was a world of ‘historical inventions’. Nelson and Lucifer, Pitt and…

Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall as Mrs Lowry and her son

Why did Mrs Lowry hate her son’s paintings?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

‘I often wonder what artists are for nowadays, what with photography and a thousand and one processes by which you…

Let’s choose our politicians by random selection

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Athens Standing right below the Acropolis, where pure democracy began because public officials were elected by lot, I try to…

‘The Paston Treasure’, detail of a little girl, unknown artist, Dutch School, c. 1663

A historical whodunnit that lets you into a forgotten world: The Paston Treasure reviewed

1 September 2018 9:00 am

In 1675 Lady Bedingfield wrote to Robert Paston, first Earl of Yarmouth. Never, she exclaimed, had she seen anything so…

Detail of a fresco from the House of the Golden Bracelet, Pompeii

The sacred chickens that ruled the roost in ancient Rome

26 May 2018 9:00 am

Even the most cursory glance at the classical period reveals the central place that birds played in the religious and…

Letters: No, the Church of England is not planning an evangelical takeover

6 January 2018 9:00 am

A church for all people Sir: I enjoyed reading Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s account of debates in the Church of England…

Sally Muir marvellously captures the particular hang of a hound’s head

True, dogged likenesses

16 December 2017 9:00 am

There are currently 151,000,000 photos on Instagram tagged #Dog which is 14,000,000 more than those tagged #Cat. The enormous number…

‘Chalices’ — a lesser known enamel work by Geoffrey Clarke, 1950

Geoffrey Clarke’s imaginative talents knew no bounds

2 December 2017 9:00 am

At the height of his fame in the mid-1960s, the sculptor Geoffrey Clarke (1924–2014) was buying fast cars and flying…

What does ‘Guernica’ really symbolise?

11 November 2017 9:00 am

It takes a bold author to open his book about ‘Guernica’ with a quotation from the Spanish artist Antonio Saura…

Ali Smith’s Winter is calm, cool and consoling

4 November 2017 9:00 am

In 1939, Barbara Hepworth gathered her children and her chisels and fled Hampstead for Cornwall. She expected war to challenge…

‘The Incredulity of Thomas’, by Caravaggio. (c.1603). It is only in St John’s Gospel that Thomas is portrayed as unbelieving

A Muslim’s insights into Christianity

28 October 2017 9:00 am

I’m not a critic, I’m an enthusiast. And when you are an enthusiast you need to try your best to…

Songs of the blood and the sword

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Jihadi Culture might sound like a joke title for a book, like ‘Great Belgians’ or ‘Canadian excitements’. But in this…

A menu for the emmets

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Tate St Ives is a pale 1980s block, with a fat rounded porte cochère and sea-stained walls. It is the…

The lifts are lovely: Tate Modern’s extension reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Tate Modern, badly overcrowded, has built itself a £260 million extension to spread everyone about the place more. This means…

The RA’s new restaurant prioritises its art over its customers

28 May 2016 9:00 am

The Keeper’s House sits in the basement of Burlington House, a restaurant in disguise. It is quite different from the…

‘Cassava with White Peacock Butterfly and young Golden Tegu’, 1702–3, by Maria Merian

The 17th century painter who hacked her way through Suriname in search of insects

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Maria Sibylla Merian was a game old bird of entrepreneurial bent, with an overwhelming obsession with insects. Born in Frankfurt…

Peter Phillips bids farewell to his music column after 33 years

7 May 2016 9:00 am

This, my 479th, is to be my last contribution as a regular columnist to The Spectator. I have written here…

Strange fruit: Bosch mixes scripture and folklore

Want your children to love art? Start with Hieronymus Bosch

23 April 2016 9:00 am

If you hope to inspire an appreciation of Renaissance art in your children, look to Hieronymus Bosch. Ideally, your children…

Hate tax havens? Try imagining a world without them

9 April 2016 9:00 am

However wicked tax evasion is and however distasteful some tax avoidance may be, people should imagine a world without tax…

Pharmacy 2 makes me like Damien Hirst

5 March 2016 9:00 am

Pharmacy 2 is the reanimated child of Damien Hirst; it lives inside the Newport Street Gallery in a forsaken patch of…

‘The upper part of the cascade at Hafod’ by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, 1793

How to view the view

20 February 2016 9:00 am

Landskipping is about viewing the view, from the 18th century to the present. From the title (which is the only…

‘The Evening’ by Caspar David Friedrich

At the going down of the sun

6 February 2016 9:00 am

One of the epigraphs to Peter Davidson’s nocturne on Europe’s arts of twilight is from Hegel: ‘The owl of Minerva…

Samuel Palmer’s ‘The Harvest Moon’: ‘the bowed forms of peasants are shadows of divinity’

Samuel Palmer: from long-haired mystic to High Church Tory

21 November 2015 9:00 am

In his youth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) painted like a Romantic poet. The moonlit field of ‘The Harvest Moon’ (1831–32) glows…

From top left: Lucian Freud, Rudolf Bing, Stefan Zweig, Walter Gropius, Rudolf Laban, Max Born, Kurt Schwitters, Friedrich Hayek, Fritz Busch, Frank Auerbach, Emeric Pressburger, Oskar Kokoschka

German refugees transformed British cultural life - but at a price

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Next week Frank Auerbach will be honoured by the British art establishment with a one-man show at Tate Britain. It’s…

Rybolovlev with the Picassos

Hurrah! Demi Moore is Pugs club’s new Mistress of Chamber

3 October 2015 9:00 am

If cheating is the cancer of sport, losing has to be its halitosis. I stunk out the joint in Amsterdam…