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Edward and Tilly and George

Robert Melville, 15 March 1984

Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... of The Miracle. It was produced by Max Reinhardt, with Lady Diana Cooper as the statue of the Madonna and Tilly as the nun who was seduced by a knight and ran away with him. The statue of the Madonna comes alive, steps off her pedestal, dons the nun’s discarded veil and assumes her duties. The Mother Superior accuses ...

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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... and the effect of his reds and yellows (blue he avoided whenever he could, even when painting the Madonna) remained remarkable, but his interest in local colour, and in pleasing the eye, gradually diminished. The lighting which he now favoured is unlike any which can easily be observed, indeed its source cannot usually be identified and was not of interest to ...


Peter Lamarque, 15 September 1983

The Critical Historians of Art 
by Michael Podro.
Yale, 257 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 300 02862 8
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A World History of Art 
by Hugh Honour and John Fleming.
Macmillan, 639 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 333 23583 5
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The Test of Time: An Essay in Philosophical Aesthetics 
by Anthony Savile.
Oxford, 319 pp., £20, July 1982, 0 19 824590 4
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... pressing in art history than that of explaining such development. How do we get from Cimabue’s Madonna Enthroned to Raphael’s Alba Madonna, or even from Brunelleschi to Bramante? And why do such changes occur? Of course development need not imply progress. Progress must by its nature be relative to a specific end or ...

Making a mess

Adam Phillips, 2 February 1989

Mother, Madonna, Whore: The Idealisation and Denigration of Motherhood 
by Estela Welldon.
Free Association, 179 pp., £11.95, November 1988, 1 85343 039 0
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... and to provide a sufficient context to understand such a provocative book as Mother, Madonna, Whore. Though listening, for some reason, is something psychoanalysts have written little about, this is clearly a book written out of an impassioned listening to people with frightening stories to tell: and for a serious psychoanalytic book it has a ...

Not Saluting, but Waving

Michael Wood, 20 February 1997

directed by Alan Parker.
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The Making of ‘Evita’ 
by Alan Parker.
Boxtree, 127 pp., £12.99, December 1996, 0 7522 2264 3
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In My Own Words 
by Eva Perón, translated by Laura Dail.
New Press, 120 pp., $8.95, November 1996, 1 56584 353 3
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Santa Evita 
by Tomás Eloy Martínez, translated by Helen Lane.
Doubleday, 371 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 385 40875 7
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... Nothing became her life like the remaking of it, but there were so many remakes. The latest stars Madonna, but the earliest starred Eva María Duarte herself. Or was that María Eva Ibarguren? She was María Eva Duarte de Perón on her marriage certificate, but then she also took three years off her age on that occasion ...

Four Poems

Charles Simic, 22 February 1996

... into a whorehouse; I mean, our anticipation and sinful joy At the prospect of such a feast. Fake Madonna Biting your nails, and you, too, Doc, Shaking hands all around, get over here! Our quarters are cramped, but we can all fit If we sit in each other’s laps. It’ll be Like a seance and we the twelve psychic crime solvers. Mr Undertaker, and you Mr ...

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs, 16 July 2020

... gazes into the landscape, her hand at her mouth, children folded around her like a Renaissance Madonna, is famous partly because it was immediately put into the public domain. The rest of her work is mostly hidden away in the Oakland Museum of California. (I could scream when I think of what happens to women artists’ archives: burned like ...


Stephen Greenblatt, 19 June 1986

Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy 
by Judith Brown.
Oxford, 214 pp., £12.50, January 1986, 0 19 503675 1
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... list of guests. At the wedding, as the other nuns watched and listened, Benedetta claimed that the Madonna looked on benevolently while Jesus placed a gold ring upon her finger. Speaking once again through her, the Saviour then delivered an extraordinary sermon on the merits of his bride, whom he wished, he said, to be ‘empress of all the nuns’. All who ...

The Wickedest Woman in Paris

Colm Tóibín, 6 September 2007

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins 
by Rupert Everett.
Abacus, 406 pp., £7.99, July 2007, 978 0 349 12058 4
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... that you can get high and still work.’ How they laughed! All this is small beer compared with Madonna: I had met many stars. At 17 I had sat with David Bowie downstairs at the Embassy Club and been lectured on the mystical potential hidden in the number seven. At 18 I had dined at La Coupole in Paris with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger. I had sniffed ...


Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy 
edited by F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons.
Oxford/Humanities Research Centre, 331 pp., £35, June 1987, 0 19 821978 4
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Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City 
by Charles Mack.
Cornell, 250 pp., $43.95, June 1987, 9780801416996
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Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian and the Franciscans 
by Rona Goffen.
Yale, 285 pp., £30, July 1986, 0 300 03455 5
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Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance 
by Margaret King.
Princeton, 524 pp., £42.90, April 1986, 0 691 05465 7
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The Venetian Patriciate: Reality versus Myth 
by Donald Queller.
Illinois, 386 pp., $29.95, September 1986, 0 252 01144 9
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Tradesman and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 
by Richard MacKenney.
Croom Helm, 289 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 7099 1763 5
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Florence, Rome and the Origins of the Renaissance 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 273 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 19 822576 8
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From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in 15th and 6th-Century Europe 
by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £29.95, January 1987, 0 7156 2100 9
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Renaissance and Revolt: Essays in the Intellectual and Social History of Early Modern France 
by J.H.M. Salmon.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £30, June 1987, 0 521 32769 5
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... of the Frari: Giovanni Bellini’s triptych, Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin and his Pesaro Madonna. An art historian by training, and somewhat less at ease with texts, Professor Goffen is at her best when, following the example of David Rosand, she discusses the relation of the paintings to their physical context in the Frari, emphasising what it might ...


Anna Vaux: Motherhood, 21 May 1998

Bad Mothers: The Politics of Blame in 20th-Century America 
edited by Molly Ladd-Taylor and Lauri Umansky.
New York, 416 pp., £16, April 1998, 0 8147 5119 9
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Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood 
by Melissa Benn.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 0 224 03821 4
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... once more about fulfilment outside the home, as feminists used to argue – a politics not of Madonna and Child, but just of Madonna, a form of Vater-schuld, more against marriage than about children (‘I am not, have not been, and never will be, a married woman,’ she boasts, since she looks to ‘an ethically ...

Boudoir Politics

Bee Wilson: Lola Montez, 7 June 2007

Lola Montez: Her Life and Conquests 
by James Morton.
Portrait, 390 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 7499 5115 3
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... opportunity, to play at being ‘Lola Montez’, just as Marilyn played at being ‘the girl’ or Madonna has played at being ‘Madonna’. In Truth or Dare, the documentary that followed one of Madonna’s tours, her then lover Warren Beatty comments: ‘She doesn’t want to live ...

Historian in the Seat of God

Paul Smith: Lord Acton and history, 10 June 1999

Acton and History 
by Owen Chadwick.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £30, August 1998, 0 521 57074 3
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... to an enthralled Herbert and Mary Gladstone the project of his great history of liberty, his ‘Madonna of the Future’, as he called it, Lord Acton was courting nemesis. For ‘moonlight’ his detractors have tended to read ‘moonshine’. His defenders have countered the impression that he wrote no history by representing that in fact he wrote a good ...

The Blue-Eyed Doe

Frederick Seidel, 19 January 1984

... see The blue, if that is possible! Bright white Of the attendants; and the mystery And calm of the madonna; and my fright. I flee, but to a mirror. In it, they Are rooms behind me in our entrance hall About to leave – the image that will stay With me. My future was behind me. All The future is a mirror in which they Are still behind me in the entrance ...

On the Titanic

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ocean Liners’ at the V&A, 24 May 2018

... Queen Mary, looking like a sideboard in the throes of a spiritual crisis, and the blue and gold Madonna of the Atlantic, by Kenneth Shoesmith, which was wheeled into the first-class drawing room on Sundays for Catholic mass. The Queen Mary was perhaps the most stylish of the British liners. Cunard, wary on the one hand of cutting-edge functionalism while ...

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