Over the Top with Everything They’d Got: British Baroque at Tate Britain

The new show at Tate Britain, British Baroque: Power and Illusion starts in another epoch when our relationship with Europe was a tad strained, let us say, and ends at the point when a German prince who spoke not a word of English was invited – if not begged – to take over the English throne. You’d almost think Tate Britain had timed this show deliberately.

Don McCullin

Don McCullin, who has a fair claim to the title of the UK’s greatest living photographer, was born in 1935 in Finsbury Park – a bloody tough area of London before the war, and even more so after, when much of it had been bombed flat. The first photograph McCullin was paid for, in 1958,…

Dior and the Story of the Perfect Dress

  In his autobiography Christian Dior tells the story of a fortune teller he met at a 1919 charity event for veterans of the Great War. He was an impressionable, imaginative young man. The fortune teller told him that he would suffer poverty earlier on in his life but that his luck would change and…

Sax and Jazz. Jean Toussaint Still Has Youth Appeal

  Sunday night in Camden. The temperature has plummeted and there are few people about on the high street. Outside the Jazz Cafe however there is a queue forming. I rush to join it and edge my way forwards between the metal barriers to get my wrist stamped. A young man runs alongside us peddling…

Just add water: Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery

Monet was born a city-boy, in Paris, but grew up to be the great philosopher-artist of the rural (haystacks) and the bucolic (his lily-pond). Aside from his mirage-like studies of the front of Rouen cathedral, you don’t think of him in relation to architecture, or as having been inspired by the hustle and bustle of…

‘Partenope’ at English National Opera

  English National Opera’s 2016/17 season closes with a welcome revival of Christopher Alden’s Olivier Award-winning 2008 production of G. F. Handel’s Partenope, first staged in 1730. The plot, daft even by Baroque comic opera standards, revolves around the mythical Partelope, Queen of Naples, and her multiple suitors. Silvio Stampiglia’s libretto, awash with braggadocio, cross-dressing…