Leonardo da Vinci. A Life in Notebooks

Study of Fetus in the Womb circa 1511   Part artist, part scientist, Da Vinci embodies the Renaissance man par excellence. Luckily for us, the workings of his inner mind in painting, sculpture, anatomy, military engineering and cartography have all been recorded in the notebooks he kept throughout his life. One of these notebooks made…

Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light

  The Spanish impressionist artist, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), is little known outside of Spain. Half a million flocked to his retrospective at the Prado Museum in 2009. Meanwhile his house in Madrid, now the Sorolla Museum, has become a tourist destination and is best visited, I imagine, out of season. And yet how…

PRIVATES ON PARADE: The Renaissance Nude at the Royal Academy

You can’t put on a show like this without provoking the odd giggle, but The Renaissance Nude will also have you pondering, especially in today’s context, what our attitudes toward sex and nudity and gender were in the past, and hit they might become.

Fortune’s Favours: ‘Sir Richard Wallace the Collector’ at the Wallace Collection, London

How to typify the Wallace? Can you, indeed? In spirit it’s maybe close to the passion of a collector such as Sir John Soane, who also founded his own public museum (there is something very English about this kind of obsession – think of the Ashmolean in Oxford, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge). It’s something like the Frick in New York, only bigger, better, wider-ranging. There’s not an item in it that doesn’t have some claim to be exceptional – rare beyond belief if not unique, superlatively made, exquisitely beautiful.