Kirsten Tambling is a freelance writer in London

How national is the National Gallery in London?

The museum is founded on the collection of John Julius Angerstein and, 200 years later, the banker’s taste is still making itself felt

10 May 2024

How Peter Blake makes his sculptures Pop

The artist has always combined high and low culture, and an exhibition at Waddington Custot captures his witty approach to assemblage

5 Mar 2024

Rocks of all ages: a guide to collecting marble, reviewed

Jan Christian Sepp’s guide to the visual and geological properties of marble will whet the appetite of the modern readers too

9 Jan 2024

A continental breakfast worth tucking into twice

Jean-Étienne Liotard depicted the same scene first in pastel, then 23 years later in oils – and both versions can be savoured for a time at the National Gallery in London

24 Nov 2023

The painters who made a great play for the stage

An understanding of theatrical culture in the 18th century is vital for understanding the most important painters of the period

29 Aug 2023

The ballet that woke up post-war Britain

Oliver Messel’s rococo sets for ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ at the Royal Opera House represented a new dawn for dance

16 Jun 2023

Crowd-pleasing art in 17th-century Amsterdam

Aside from the usual refreshments, the city’s taverns offered a highly engineered form of popular entertainment

27 Feb 2023
Poor Relations by George Goodwin Kilburne

What the Victorians liked to hang on their walls

Thanks to mass production (and reproduction), in the 19th-century some middle-class homes began to resemble miniature picture galleries

28 Nov 2022

The English oddballs who cultivated their very own gardens of Eden

In ‘English Garden Eccentrics’, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan introduces us to a gallery of historical horticulturists, all determined to create their own private paradises

26 Sep 2022
Pompadour at Her Toilette (detail; 1750 with later additions), François Boucher. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum

Think pink with Madame Pompadour!

An extremely close look at François Boucher’s portrait of the marquise in the Fogg Museum at Harvard homes in on the painter’s use of his signature colour

20 Jul 2022
Wolf's Cove miniature village

The architect whose greatest achievement was the world’s first miniature village

Wolf’s Cove, the model village in Gloucestershire designed by Charles Paget Wade, is proof of the architect’s commitment to creating ideal communities

27 Jun 2022
Vase with the head of an elephant (1757), designed by Jean Claude Chambellan Duplessis the Elder and painted by Charles-Nicolas Dodin for Sèvres. The Wallace Collection, London

The rococo interiors that furnished Walt Disney’s imagination

The French furniture that inspired the look of Disney’s best-loved films also came out of a studio system that required a good deal of collaboration

15 Apr 2022
Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

How every age has invented a Stonehenge to suit itself

The prehistoric monument may seem timeless, but enthusiasts have constantly reimagined the site to suit their own preoccupations

4 Mar 2022
The Alexander Palace Egg (1908; detail), Henrik Wigström for Fabergé. Moscow Kremlin Museums.

How Fabergé cornered the market in gifts for the Edwardian elite

The firm of Fabergé is synonymous with the Russian Imperial family, but its fabulous baubles soon became a must-have for elites across Europe

18 Jan 2022
(n.d.), Louis Wain. Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London.

Louis Wain, the man who drew cats

The artist’s commercial cat illustrations were hugely popular in his lifetime, but his series of psychedelic kitties have attracted rather more serious attention

15 Dec 2021
The Painter and his Pug

When it came to art, Hogarth had no real beef with Europe

William Hogarth liked to present himself as a bluff Englishman, but the truth was a touch more complicated

18 Nov 2021
The Hon. Mrs Mary Graham (detail; 1775–77), Thomas Gainsborough.

Capital gains: how Gainsborough took London by storm

When the painter finally moved to the capital, he was quick to make the most of the opportunities on offer

22 Jul 2021

How Britain’s first prime minister became a sitting target for satirists

Robert Walpole was a supreme political operator – but his power and personal wealth made him a splendid butt of satire, too

2 Apr 2021

By royal arrangement: Queen Mary’s compulsive collecting

Many British royals have been keen on acquiring works of art, but few have been as diligent about looking after them as Queen Mary

27 Mar 2021
Nurses dance around the Bethnal Green mulberry in 1944, three years after it was bombed.

The battle to save London’s mulberry trees

Mulberry trees are rare in the city, yet more than one is currently under threat – including the oldest tree in the East End

22 Feb 2021
David Garrick as Richard III (detail; c. 1745), William Hogarth. Walker Art Gallery.

Bard boy – David Garrick and the cult of Shakespeare

The actor did more than anyone to revive Shakespeare’s reputation in the 18th century – and a plethora of curious wooden relics also played their part

2 Jan 2021
Detail showing the ‘second cabinet’ on page 50 of the Catalogue des Tableaux de Mr Julienne (c. 1756), compiled by Jean-Baptiste-François de Montullé. Morgan Library and Museum, New York

Getting the hang of it – a look inside the home of an 18th-century collector in Paris

An illustrated inventory made for Jean de Jullienne shows us how his paintings were displayed

29 Apr 2020
Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera (1717), Antoine Watteau. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Photo: © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN-Grand Palais

Fashion forward – the dashing designs of Antoine Watteau

The artist’s fashion etchings hint at the delight in transient pleasures that is so evident in his paintings

11 Apr 2020
The Poor Cat, (1832), Louis-Léopold Boilly. The Ramsbury Manor Foundation, photo: © The trustees of the Ramsbury Manor Foundation

The painter who took a prudent approach to the French Revolution

Louis-Léopold Boilly was a peculiarly adaptable painter in turbulent times

6 Mar 2019