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Blade Runner 2049 and the Renaissance Nude

 I am, perhaps, the only person to see Blade Runner 2049 who was constantly reminded of book 3 of Baldassare Castiglione’s Courtier. It wasn’t the replicants that did it, but the artificially intelligent hologram super-girl, Joi (Ana de Armas), who the … Continue reading

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How to Get Breasts like Apples: Beauty Tips for the Early Modern Woman

On 27 February 1639 King Philip IV of Spain received a letter from his brother Ferdinand about Rubens’ Judgement of Paris (above). The story of the Judgment of Paris was often represented in early modern texts and images. It’s the one where … Continue reading

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More body hair removal tips for the Renaissance woman

I couldn’t resist sharing these thoughts on body hair removal from a  Venetian 1562 advice book for women that I stumbled across yesterday (apparently written by a “Greek Queen”, but really by the male physician, Giovanni Marinello). You would have … Continue reading

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Call for Papers, RSA 2014: Skin, Fur and Hairs: Animality and Tactility in Renaissance Europe

For Renaissance Europeans, animal fur was a desirable but complex material.  It was a high status commodity, lining (or appearing to line) fine garments.  Yet it was also an animal skin, as worn by Adam and Eve after the Fall.  … Continue reading

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The bureaucrat, the Mona Lisa, and leaving things rough

In early 2007, a rash of stories appeared in the international media about the discovery of the “true” identity of the Mona Lisa. The excitement was linked to the publication of a marginal note in an early printed edition of … Continue reading

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Vasari and Artistic Value

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in an event called “The irreverent interpretation: Before and After Vasari’s Lives of the Artists”, organised by the fantastic Transmission Gallery committee for the Glasgow Art Festival.  I talked alongside Fiona Jardine … Continue reading

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The Da Vinci Debate

Often, people who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of renaissance art use the short hand “Da Vinci” instead of “Leonardo”. Sometimes you will come across some cognoscenti admitting to “squirming” when they come across people referring to Da Vinci instead … Continue reading

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