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Renaissance | John McDonald

Renaissance

The Lady and the Unicorn

April 20, 2018
'Mon Seul Desire'

Towards the end of Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll stages a furious battle between a lion and a unicorn. The fight is based on an old nursery rhyme, which plays on the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, in which the lion stands for England, the unicorn for Scotland. The lion and … More


William Dobell: Painter in Paradise

July 4, 2015
WILLIAM DOBELL,
'Head of Kuta girl' (1953)
oil on hardboard, 45 x 34 cm.
Private collection

Although he was one of Australia’s best-known artists, William Dobell (1899-1970) was inordinately sensitive to criticism. After the notorious court case over his Archibald Prize win of 1943, Dobell withdrew to his hideaway in Wangi where he suffered from a series of nervous complaints. He broke out in severe dermatitis and at one point lost … More


The Prado and the World

May 24, 2014
Giambattista Tiepolo
Italian 1696–1770, worked in Spain 1762–70
The Immaculate Conception (L’Immacolata Concezione) 1767–69
oil on canvas
281.0 x 155.0 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00363)
Spanish Royal Collection

In 1982 I paid my first visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Spain was still in the process of awakening from the Franco era, which ended with the dictator’s death in 1975, and its museums were poor and neglected. The Prado was a cold, austere place with a stupendous collection. In a single … More


The Second Mona Lisa

May 19, 2012
Conservators at the Museo del Prado in Madrid recently discovered that this copy of the Mona Lisa was painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo da Vinci.

  Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 but he is still one of the world’s great celebrities. The recent Leonardo retrospective at the National Gallery in London attracted the longest queues ever seen in Britain. Mention his name and reporters come running, as if the latest Hollywood starlet just flew into town. Add a reference … More


Renaissance in Canberra

January 7, 2012
Giovanni BELLINI, Madonna and Child (Alzano Madonna), c.1488

There will be some in Canberra who find it ironic that Ron Radford is hosting a show devoted to the Renaissance at the National Gallery of Australia, when his first significant act as director in 2006 was to send the museum’s small collection of Old Masters on permanent loan to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. As … More


Hypokulturemia in the Hypo-Kulturstiftung

November 18, 2011
Leonhard Beck, Portrait of a Young Man with a Hat, ca. 1512/13

In Munich last week I began to feel I was suffering from Stendhal Syndrome. It’s been twenty years since I was in this city, but I had vivid memories of those two great museums, the Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek. Now those galleries have been joined by the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Brandhorst Museum, … More


I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art

October 1, 2009

I Blame Duchamp: My Life’s Adventures in Art By Edmund Capon This is not the book many people have been expecting. After more than thirty years as director of the Art Gallery of NSW it might seem that Edmund Capon has earned the right to publish a lively, candid, slightly scandalous memoir. There is a … More