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More famous than Madonna

T.H. Barrett, 23 April 1992

Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy 
by Paul Ratchnevsky, translated by Thomas Haining.
Blackwell, 313 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 631 16785 4
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... take to make a Medieval non-European of no particular personal charm as much a household name as Madonna? Could it be the teenage murder of a half-brother, the abandonment of his young wife to his enemies to save his skin, the execution of his closest friend, a blood-brother since childhood, by dismemberment, and (in all probability) the poisoning of his ...

Plain girl’s revenge made flesh

Hilary Mantel, 23 April 1992

Madonna Unauthorised 
by Christopher Andersen.
Joseph, 279 pp., £14.99, December 1991, 0 7181 3536 9
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... book begins, as it should, with the prodigal, the violent, the gross. But what do you expect? Madonna’s wedding was different from other people’s. The plans were made in secrecy, and backed by armed force. ‘Even the caterer ... was kept in the dark until the last minute.’ You also, you may protest, have been to weddings where the caterer has ...

Cumin-coated

Colin Burrow: Two Novels about Lost Bellinis, 14 August 2008

The Bellini Card 
by Jason Goodwin.
Faber, 306 pp., £12.99, July 2008, 978 0 571 23992 4
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The Bellini Madonna 
by Elizabeth Lowry.
Quercus, 343 pp., July 2008, 978 1 84724 364 5
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... than the plot, which is 100 per cent cumin-coated tripe. Elizabeth Lowry’s The Bellini Madonna, mercifully, is set not in a Venice that’s trying to be a fake Canaletto but in a ‘17th-century manor house with Victorian accretions’, which a few pages later acquires ‘two sweeping Georgian side elevations’, and later still has ‘tall Gothic ...

Don’t

Jenny Diski, 5 November 1992

Sex 
by Madonna.
Secker, 128 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 436 27084 6
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Sex and Sensibility 
by Julie Burchill.
Grafton, 269 pp., £5.99, October 1992, 0 00 637858 7
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Too hot to handle 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Peter Owen, 134 pp., £15.50, November 1992, 0 7206 0875 9
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... with great interest, at self-revelation and where its limits lie. I had hopes of Sex. Wouldn’t Madonna offer us her limitless confidence and dispel my nagging doubt that we all suffer from nagging doubts? Wouldn’t she be saying: you’ve had the public stuff, now here’s the raw material, the motherlode. All of it’s worth having, and therefore all of ...

What the children saw

Marina Warner, 7 April 1994

Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany 
by David Blackhourn.
Oxford, 463 pp., £40, December 1993, 0 19 821783 8
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... recently issued a book the size of a telephone directory called Supernatural Visions of the Madonna 1981-91. The desktop publication was heralded by large ads in various papers featuring the visionary. Sister Marie or Sofia Marie Gabriel: her revelations and secrets could save mankind. In the book, the author includes a poem, called ‘Child Mystic ...

Ostentatio Genitalium

Charles Hope, 15 November 1984

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Faber, 222 pp., £25, September 1984, 0 571 13392 4
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... calculated near-miss’; if she is concealing it with drapery, the picture is one in which ‘the Madonna unveils the Child or decks its [sic] loins with attention-gathering ceremony.’ Professor Steinberg, in fact, seems to find a genital focus in every representation of the Madonna and Child in which the child is not ...

The Divine Miss P.

Elaine Showalter, 11 February 1993

Sex, Art and American Culture 
by Camille Paglia.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, March 1993, 0 670 84612 0
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... on the burning issues of our time: tenured radicals, date rape, the aesthetic evolution of Madonna. The self-styled genius and warrior woman seized public attention with her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), a sweeping, Strindbergian analysis of culture as the war of the sexes. But what really made ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Fakes, 22 July 2010

... the picture isn’t, as Bernard Berenson suggested, a copy). Attributed to Umberto Giunti, ‘Madonna of the Veil’, 1920-29 Then there is the Madonna of the Veil, bought expensively by Lord Lee of Fareham in 1930 and bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute in 1947. It was accepted by London experts in the 1930s as a ...

Rebalancings

T.J. Clark: Bellini and Mantegna, 20 December 2018

Mantegna and Bellini 
National Gallery, London, until 27 January 2018Show More
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... Ruskin on Bellini: The art of Bellini is centrally represented by two pictures at Venice: one, the Madonna in the sacristy of the Frari; the second, the Madonna with four saints, over the second altar of San Zaccaria. In the first of these, the figures are under life size, and it represents the most perfect kind of picture ...

The Ashtray

Nicholas Penny, 4 June 1981

The Study and Criticism of Italian Sculpture 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Princeton, 270 pp., £25.10, March 1981, 0 691 03967 4
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... is not much encouraged. So it is exhilarating to be shown how, underneath the repainting, the Madonna of the Humility in Washington really looks as if it is by Masaccio, or to compare the drapery folds in the bust of Francesco Sassetti with those favoured by Verrocchio. Then there is that powerful little bronze figure in the Bargello, known as the ...

Building with Wood

Gilberto Perez: Time and Tarkovsky, 26 February 2009

Tarkovsky 
by Nathan Dunne.
Black Dog, 464 pp., £29.95, February 2008, 978 1 906155 04 9
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Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema 
by Robert Bird.
Reaktion, 255 pp., £15.95, April 2008, 978 1 86189 342 0
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... the Tuscan church where Piero della Francesca painted his fresco of the pregnant Virgin Mary, the Madonna del Parto. But the scene wasn’t shot there. James Macgillivray, in his contribution to a new volume of essays edited by Nathan Dunne, tells us that Tarkovsky had a reproduction of Piero’s painting installed in the crypt of another Romanesque church ...

A Most Delicate Invention

Tim Parks: ‘Money and Beauty’, 22 September 2011

... and expensive use of gold leaf across the whole background, and the golden crown placed on the Madonna’s head, again suggest that there is no conflict between money and sanctity. Despite this reconciliation of sacred and profane in coin, statute book and altarpiece – three of the opening exhibits in a show at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence which I ...

October!

John Lloyd, 21 October 1993

... icon was borne into the Bogoyavlensky Sobor, the Cathedral of the Epiphany, in Moscow. The Madonna of Vladimir, a 12th-century depiction of the infant Jesus resting on the arm of an abstracted Madonna, was delivered to the church by Zil minibus. In spite of his recent heart trouble, Patriarch Alexei of Moscow and All ...

At the Musée du Luxembourg

Nicholas Penny: Botticelli, 20 November 2003

... until 22 February. The artist’s most famous works (the Birth of Venus, the Primavera and the Madonna of the Magnificat) are not included and there isn’t a single altarpiece, but half a dozen of his greatest paintings are here. After pondering some early, damaged paintings of the Madonna and Child you meet the great ...

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny, 23 January 2020

... in the 15th century’. He baptises it (rather late in its public life) as the ‘Volterra Madonna’ and it is catalogued as ‘definitely autograph’. It has long been thought that the painting was made by more than one artist, however, and in the related exhibition, Verrocchio: Sculptor and Master of Renaissance Florence, at the National Gallery of ...

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