SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Lucien de Guise

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May 27, 2021
"It’s not a whitewash of the man whose very name suggests darkness," writes Lucien de Guise. "This exhibition is more of a blank slate, trying to rehabilitate an individual whose reputation is unknown to younger visitors."
August 21, 2020
There has never been much that China has wanted from the outside world. Exotic produce from Southeast Asian rainforests used to be of interest; now it’s luxury goods from London and Paris, plus entire vineyards in Bordeaux. Foreign ideas, too, have rarely interested China. It took millennia to develop the blend of Confucianism and Taoism
January 23, 2020
When Gauguin Portraits ends its run at the National Gallery this month, the artist will have emerged as a serious portraitist as well as a Primitivist, Symbolist and Synthetist. What might have been overlooked along the way is Gauguin the man of God. Gauguin’s fascination with the traditional beliefs of French Polynesia is well known.
October 24, 2019
There has been some fairly specific criticism of the latest exhibition at the British Museum. “Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art” has irked some reviewers, not with the title’s meagre use of capitalisation, but with the disappointingly small number of harem paintings on display. It seems that British art critics
August 08, 2019
In a recent article in this magazine, Tim Stanley upped the ante by suggesting that the government of China is “pure evil”. His observation was part of an ingenious argument about liberalism and the crackdown on protestors in Hong Kong. His conclusion: “It’s time to confront Beijing’s communist tyranny head-on.” I am not so sure
May 09, 2019
St Mark the Evangelist By Serena Fass, Filament Publishing (distributed by Aid to the Church in Need UK), 315pp, £25/$30 Serena Fass is a remarkable figure in the field of Christian studies. Despite being 80 years old, this unstuffy non-academic keeps on writing. In the past few years she has produced books on St Thomas,
January 31, 2019
A recent issue of the Spectator featured a surprising article. It was self-critical, apolitical and highly readable. Commissioning editor Mary Wakefield made a confession about her reading habits: she has a passion for romantic fiction, specifically Mills & Boon. Mention of those two names brought back memories of the 1970s that I had repressed in
October 25, 2018
One of the most significant cultural events of the year took place at the British Museum last week: the glitzy new Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World was formally opened. The gallery is huge both in size and in terms of the message it sends about the growing Islamic influence in the London art
September 27, 2018
The Royal Academy’s new exhibition Oceania is as big as the subject deserves. It’s a happy coincidence for this neglected field that 2018 marks both the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy and of Captain Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific. This is the first major exhibition of Oceanic art in London. Maybe it will
May 02, 2018
The Silver Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum are less frequented than most. Recently the foot traffic has increased as the silverware piled high in this cavernous space is augmented by the treasure of Maqdala. The V&A is entirely open about the questionable origins of these Ethiopian wares. Although the lighting is not the
April 12, 2018
Dull is the eye that will not weep to see Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed By British hands, which it had best behoved To guard those relics ne’er to be restored. Lord Byron’s mourning of the Parthenon Marbles is unlikely to have been read by Auguste Rodin. He was not much of a
March 22, 2018
What inspired Picasso to create multiple images of this most Christian of events?