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By Martin Gayford

The culmination of a life of adventure through a cultural colossus, Philippe de Montebello, the longest-serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of paintings in its background, distilled in conversations with an acclaimed critic

starting with a fraction of yellow jasper―all that's left of the face of an Egyptian lady who lived 3,500 years ago―this ebook confronts the elusive questions: how, and why, can we examine art?

Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford talked in paintings galleries or church buildings or their very own houses, and this e-book is established round their trips. yet whether or not they have been within the Louvre or the Prado, the Mauritshuis of the Palazzo Pitti, they exhibit the pleasures of actually looking.

De Montebello stocks the feel of pleasure recorded via Goethe in his autobiography―"akin to the emotion skilled on coming into a home of God"―but additionally displays on why those secular temples may perhaps however be the "worst attainable locations to examine art." yet after all either males exhibit, with subtlety and brilliance, the delights and value in their subject material and a few of the serious creations of humans all through our lengthy background. seventy five illustrations

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Ermita de San Antonio de los angeles Florida, Madrid. Francisco Goya, Miracle of St Anthony (detail), 1798. Fresco. Ermita de San Antonio de los angeles Florida, Madrid. PdM  I just like the cohesion of this; the cover it kinds. The trompe-l’œil is of a section with the development, and within the culture of such a lot of such ceiling undefined, Goya makes you think that the scenes within the frescoes are a part of the structure. The influence is the entire extra remarkable in that one isn't taking a look up a few 2 hundred toes in an incredible baroque church. And that variegated crew of standard humans taking a look down at us from the balcony within the dome is impressive. The saint and his miracle are nearly information within the throng swirling round the base of the small dome. St Anthony is elevating a guy, a gaunt and bare determine, from the useless. throughout them is a jostling crowd of individuals: attractive younger ladies just like the majas in his different work, little ones clambering dangerously at the barrier, white-bearded elders. they're a cross-section of the pueblo: the folk of Madrid as you'll have encountered them open air right here a bit over 200 years in the past. you're feeling the true topic isn't the saint and the miracle, lots because the humans looking at it. these 18th-century madrileños are an viewers similar to us, the trendy spectators. in reality, there are way more of them, on the grounds that this morning Philippe and i've the chapel to ourselves. PdM  The angels within the apse and spandrels round the dome don’t glance very holy. they're great younger women from Goya’s entourage, the same as the dames d’honneur of Queen Maria Luisa. Or they can have emerged from a Parisian model stroll and brought their areas at the ceiling of Goya’s apse. It’s fairly fairly marvellous to take a seat the following during this chair and glance from one team to a different after which concentrate on only one, corresponding to the 3 younger lady angels in vibrant clothes over there within the apse. MG  They glance to me as though they're on degree, dressed up as angels. certainly, there's something consciously stagey concerning the complete factor. this is often probably the final nice spiritual fresco in Western artwork, and maybe Goya was once part conscious of that. PdM  He painted those frescoes on the very finish of the 18th century. The French Revolution had taken position, the trendy international was once being born. yet for me, there has been yet another bankruptcy within the heritage of grand architectural portray: Eugène Delacroix’s work of art for Saint Sulpice, in Paris, with the majestic depiction of Jacob and the Angel, and his wonderful ceiling within the Galerie d’Apollon on the Louvre. while Goya did those work, it used to be already meant that this development could condo his tomb. In 1798, even supposing he used to be purely in his early fifties, he used to be stone deaf. He died in exile, in Bordeaux in 1828, yet his physique was once introduced again to Spain and buried during this church. MG  Goya here's even looser and freer in his approach than Tiepolo. The frescoes appear tremendous clean and brilliant, as though they'd been painted particularly lately; yet possibly the work were wiped clean. PdM  True, i believe there were numerous campaigns of restorations.

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