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Why Christ is playing with the Magdalene’s Hair

Nicholas Penny: Correggio, 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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... There may be some 20th-century art which would help us to understand Reni’s paintings. Richard Spear 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. In any case, it is undeniable that Reni’s ...

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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... be writing the history of art? Three recent books bear on these issues. The Seicento specialists Richard Spear 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; while two treatments of Caravaggio, by Andrew ...

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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... 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 ...


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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... 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 fifth element distinct from the four sublunary stuffs ...

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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... 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 contradiction, Marías’s long sentences snowball with ...

What Wotan Wants

Jerry Fodor, 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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... 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 therefore propose ‘to probe its philosophical and ...

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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... 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’t ask because Richter is a historian, and his ...

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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... 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, Blackfoot Sioux, Hunkpapa, Two Kettle, Sans Arc and ...

‘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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... 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 divided, uncertain. At the end of the British Museum ...

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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... 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 death of Roosevelt by casting a spell on him? There was a ...


Charles Nicholl: At the Maison Rimbaud in Harar, 16 March 2000

... 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 Burton, who arrived in 1855 ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 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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... 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, could not with any justice be charged with irreverence or ...
The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... mythos’. And the composition of Parsifal showed a curious dual development: the motifs of spear and chalice became more explicitly Christian, yet also more entangled with the fabulous symbolic apparatus which is centred on Kundry and dominates Act Two. A Christian account like Beckett’s consequently faces many difficulties. She has too little to say ...

Bill and Dick’s Excellent Adventure

Christopher Hitchens, 20 February 1997

Behind the Oval Office: Winning the Presidency in the Nineties 
by Dick Morris.
Random House, 382 pp., $25.95, January 1997, 9780679457473
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... most mordant radical cartoonist and also its leading fascist closet-case and McCarthyite spear-bearer. Morris doesn’t mention Feiffer at all in this book, but he does tell a few wide-boy stories about Cohn, which show a mingling of affected shock and vicarious admiration. He doesn’t possess the talent or wit of the one or the ...

Still Dithering

Norman Dombey: After Trident, 16 December 2010

... 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 Nato, but conceded that they could be used independently by ...

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