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Fourth from the top

Martin Kemp, 1 December 1983

Collected Essays: Vols I and II 
by Frances Yates.
Routledge, 279 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 7100 0952 6
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... Dame Frances Yates was an explorer: someone who pushed forward the frontiers of the generally known world, discovering and charting previously unmapped territory. The metaphors of exploration which abound in her own writings are not, therefore, merely rhetorical devices. Thirty years ago Ramon Lull’s philosophical output was a ‘huge un-climbed mountain’ and she was planning ‘a, reconaissance expedition searching out new routes for some future attempt on the summit ...

A Peece of Christ

Charles Hope: Did Leonardo paint it?, 2 January 2020

Leonardo da Vinci 
at the Louvre, until 24 February 2020Show More
Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered 
by Carmen Bambach.
Yale, 2350 pp., £400, July 2019, 978 0 300 19195 0
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The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting 
by Ben Lewis.
William Collins, 396 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 00 831341 8
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Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts 
by Margaret Dalivalle, Martin Kemp and Robert Simon.
Oxford, 383 pp., £35, November 2019, 978 0 19 881383 5
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... well aware that drapery seen through a solid transparent sphere could never be without distortion. Martin Kemp tried to explain this anomaly on the grounds that Leonardo was observing the principle of decorum: just as artists didn’t show refraction of Christ’s legs in water in paintings of his baptism, so too Leonardo avoided it here. The argument ...

Leonardo’s Shortcomings

Charles Hope, 18 March 1982

Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man 
by Martin Kemp.
Dent, 384 pp., £14.95, August 1981, 0 460 04354 4
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... in tone, as well as misleading about his attitude to ancient authorities. Time and again, as Kemp points out, he made problems for himself by failing to take adequate account of observations and arguments available in standard Classical sources. The question of Leonardo’s originality arises most obviously and most acutely in connection with his many ...

Botticelli and the Built-in Bed

Anthony Grafton: The Italian Renaissance, 2 April 1998

Behind the Picture: Art and Evidence in Italian Renaissance 
by Martin Kemp.
Yale, 304 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 300 07195 7
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... of it: But Mr Cotton, says she, are you sure it is a shoe?’ The 20th-century art historian Martin Kemp has spent his life reconstructing the techniques with which Italian Renaissance artists analysed and represented the natural world: the science of art, as he once called it. He has a deep command of the specialised literature, and no one knows ...

On holiday with Leonardo

Nicholas Penny, 21 December 1989

The New Museology 
edited by Peter Vergo.
Reaktion, 230 pp., £23, September 1989, 0 948462 04 3
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The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750-1850 
by Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 314 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 300 04225 6
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Journal of the History of Collections, No 1 
edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor.
Oxford, 230 pp., £23, June 1989, 0 00 954665 0
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... marketing. A seat on the museum’s Board of Trustees was vacated long ago by the resignation of Martin Kemp. No art historian of equivalent seniority can, it seems, be persuaded to fill it. A collection of essays entitled The New Museology suggests where suitable candidates may be found. Paul Greenhalgh is one. He cheerfully announces that ‘in ...

Diary

Nicholas Penny: Getting Rid of the Curators, 4 May 1989

... However, Sir Michael cannot have had all the Trustees in mind when he said this – surely not Martin Kemp, for instance, who has resigned; surely not Michael Podro; surely not Mary Giles; and there are almost certainly others who retain some measure of independence. The curators have not always been as concerned as they might have been with providing ...

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 ...

Eyeballs v. Optics

Julian Bell: Western art, 13 December 2001

Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters 
by David Hockney.
Thames and Hudson, 296 pp., £35, October 2001, 0 500 23785 9
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... Hockney’s correspondence on the subject over the last two years, chiefly with the art historian Martin Kemp, author of The Science of Art (1990), a magisterial study of painting and optics. David and Martin, seemingly unedited, exchange chitchat, aperçus and mutual encouragement between Los Angeles and ...

Venus in Blue Jeans

Charles Nicholl: The Mona Lisa, 4 April 2002

Mona Lisa: The History of the World’s Most Famous Painting 
by Donald Sassoon.
HarperCollins, 350 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 00 710614 9
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... particular, or it is a depiction of Chastity. All in all, it may be best to follow the example of Martin Kemp, whose 1981 study of the artist laconically captioned the painting Portrait of a Lady on a Balcony – though even this will not satisfy those denizens of the Mona Lisa websites and news groups who believe that she is really a man, and ...

Miss Fleur gave me the most awful restyle

Elaine Showalter: Joe Orton, 10 December 1998

Between Us Girls 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1998, 1 85459 374 9
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‘Fred & Madge’ and ‘The Visitors’ 
by Joe Orton.
Hern, 224 pp., £12.99, October 1998, 1 85459 354 4
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... invariably failing to attract a new ‘number’, she will take her dependable gay walker, Ollie Martin. The interchangeable parties feature the same ‘divine Hungarian musicians in green coats’, and the life of the party, Stewie Hunter, who dresses up in various costumes and leads the band with a shoe, a fork, or a lamp or a freesia. By the end of the ...

Green Thoughts

Colin Ward, 19 January 1989

Seasons of the Seal 
by Fred Bruemmer and Brian Davies.
Bloomsbury, 160 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 7475 0214 5
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Whale Nation 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 191 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 224 02555 4
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Falling for a dolphin 
by Heathcote Williams.
Cape, 47 pp., £4.95, November 1988, 0 224 02659 3
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Prisoners of the Seas 
by K.A. Gourlay.
Zed, 256 pp., £25.95, November 1988, 0 86232 686 9
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Progress for a Small Planet 
by Barbara Ward.
Earthscan, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1988, 1 85383 028 3
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Future Earth: Exploring the Frontiers of Space 
edited by Nigel Calder and John Newell.
Christopher Helm, 255 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780747004202
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Sizewell B: An Anatomy of the Enquiry 
by Timothy O’Riordan, Ray Kemp and Michael Purdue.
Macmillan, 474 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 333 38944 1
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Early Green Politics 
by Peter Gould.
Harvester, 225 pp., £29.95, June 1988, 0 7108 1192 6
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Dreamers of the Absolute 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Radius, 312 pp., £7.95, October 1988, 0 09 173240 9
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The Coming of the Greens 
by Jonathon Porritt and David Winner.
Fontana, 287 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 00 637244 9
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Ecology and Socialism 
by Martin Ryle.
Radius, 122 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 09 182247 5
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... building a fairer industrial society will be doomed to failure.’ This is the challenge to which Martin Ryle seeks to respond. In a closely-argued book he works his way through the relationship between green politics and the politics of the Left, and looks at other European countries where the green percentage of total votes cast in elections is ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... also stated that Brooks had laughed about being arrested for assaulting her then husband, Ross Kemp. As Laidlaw pointed out, the assault had happened six weeks after the lunch. He accused Cook of telling lies. The second witness, Ambi Sitham, a former media lawyer, said that in 2004 she’d gone to a restaurant in Balham with Brooks, Coulson and Piers ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... to police violence against black people, but the protests against the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray were mostly confined to the cities in which the deaths had occurred. Obama was seen as sympathetic to BLM’s concerns, even if he offered little more than memorable speeches. Floyd’s death not only follows the killings of ...

Unsluggardised

Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... On 16 March 1810​ a Mrs Martin, a ‘labourer’s wife’, was working a field near Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon when she turned up an old gold signet ring bearing on its bezel the initials ‘W.S.’ It was bought for 36 shillings by Robert Bell Wheler, a local historian, and later donated to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, where it still resides ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... as a multi-bar complex aimed at the youth of the area. When Mark Hudson visited him. Charlie Kemp, leader of the ‘Broad Left’ radicalising faction in the Seventies National Union of Mineworkers, was busy looking at the Financial Times index on Ceefax (he had spent his redundancy money on buying stocks and shares and had invested shrewdly); the ...

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