Museums and theatres are opening up, and we can now leave the UK to visit a limited number of countries. Plans are afoot for foreign visits, and before long there will be more plans for face-to-face talks… Indian variant allowing. On the right you can see what I’m up to, including events that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home, and even, when it becomes possible, in person – possibly even in another country…

coming sooner… and later.

My next series of talks will cover one of the Baroque greats – or, for that matter, one of the greats of all time – and is called Caravaggio: A life in three paintings. The talks will be on alternate Mondays, 24 May, 7 & 21 June, and, as before, I will be repeating the talks at 2pm and 6pm as I know not everyone is available all the time. However, (a) I love spontaneity and (b) I don’t have the facilities or time to record and post the talks… so recordings will not be available after the event. Apologies if you’re not free, but maybe next time! The links below (in blue) will take you to Tixoom, who handle all the bookings, and they will send you a ticket which includes the Zoom link. You will also get a receipt from Stripe, who deal with all the money. Here’s a bit more about the series:

Caravaggio: A life in three paintings
Mondays 24 May, 7 & 21 June
I’ve always thought that the National Gallery in London has a superb collection of paintings by Caravaggio, the great master of Baroque painting. OK, there are only three, but as there are, at most, only 90 in the whole world (and it’s likely that not all of those are originals), its not a bad proportion. But more important than the number is the fact that they represent, remarkably accurately, his development as an artist – one early work, one mature and one late… So over the course of three talks I will cover Caravaggio’s life by focussing on these three paintings. In each I will start by looking closely at the painting in question, before placing it in the context of his life. In this way you will not only develop a far better understanding of the National Gallery’s paintings, but also of the life and career of one of the world’s more remarkable artists.

The titles of each talk, and the focus paintings which they cover, are listed below, as are links to Tixoom, where you can read more information and book.

1. A Boy, bitten…
A Boy Bitten by a Lizard, 1593-4.
Monday 24 May 2PM BST
Monday 24 May 6PM BST

2. Recognition: Supper at Emmaus
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601.
Monday 7 June 2PM BST
Monday 7 June 6PM BST

3. Salome: The Regret of Revenge
Salome receives the Head of John the Baptist, 1607.
Monday 21 June 2PM BST
Monday 21 June 6PM BST

My first planned trip abroad will take place from 8-12 September: The Art and Architecture of Raphael in Rome – this was originally planned to coincide with the Raphael exhibition last March. Nevertheless, there is always plenty of Raphael to see in the Eternal City, and we will see as much as it as possible, including an early morning private view of the rooms painted by the master – en route to the Sistine Chapel, which we will have to ourselves. At the moment this trip is fully booked – but there is a waiting list…

16 – 19 September will see a welcome return to Stockholm. This will be an introduction to the history and art of a truly wonderful city, looking at unique renaissance sculpture, and the 19th Century masters, Anders Zorn – who rivals Sargent and Sorolla in his voluptuous use of paint – and Carl Larrson, whose beautiful paintings contain a delicacy of touch and colour which is bound to delight. There will also be a nautical theme: we will also take a boat trip inland to see the Queen’s Castle – Drottningholm – and visit the Vasa, the remains of a 17th Century shipwreck which far outshines the Mary Rose.

18 – 21 October we will be heading to Ravenna and the Comacchio Lagoon. Having started the year with a lecture on the glorious mosaics, it will be such a joy to see them in person – the best surviving Byzantine art in the world, and among the best mosaics anywhere. We will also head out into the Comacchio lagoon, enjoy great local food, and visit the Abbey of Pomposa, one of Italy’s little-visited wonders of Romanesque architecture.

And finally (for now) we will visit Dresden from 4 – 7 November to see the exhibition dedicated to Vermeer and his Dutch contemporaries. The permanent collection of Old Masters – the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister – is not to be missed. Remarkably rich and wide-ranging, it has some truly wonderful paintings – including a very famous work by Raphael which most people probably think is in Italy. We will also travel up the River Elbe to visit Meissen, and take a tour of the porcelain factory.

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