Max Norman is a freelance writer

W. W. Fowler, The Coleoptera of the British Islands, Vol. 5, 1891. China Blue is visible on the bottom left.

This colour chart of nature is completely mad – and utterly beguiling

An Enlightenment project to classify all the colours in the natural world is an extraordinary feat of ingenuity

3 Aug 2021
The Doge’s Room. Photo: Matteo De Fina

Going to the doge’s – the Palazzo Grimani puts on a powerful display

At the Palazzo Grimani, more classical sculptures can now be seen in the splendid rooms in which they were once displayed

7 Jul 2021
The Nurture of Jupiter (c. 1639), Nicolas Poussin. Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Dual purpose – passion and reason in the art of Nicolas Poussin

A new study emphasises the marriage of thought and feeling in the painter’s work

22 Apr 2020
Madonna at the Fountain (detail; 1439), Jan van Eyck.

Van Eyck does the best he can in Vienna

A focused display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum brings the painter’s ingenuity to the fore

28 Aug 2019
Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm (detail; 1895), Edvard Munch.

Munch’s prints are obsessive and repetitive – but a revelation all the same

He took to the medium with great speed, producing works that display a rich debt to the Old Masters

22 May 2019
Detail from a page of the Codex Mexicana, c. 1541, created as a handbook for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain, providing him with information about his new province. The writing is in the Mexica language, Nahuatl, and Spanish. Image courtesy Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

A new tower of Babel rises in the Bodleian Library

We know what translation can do – but what does it look like? Eight centuries of multilingual activity is on show in Oxford

17 Apr 2019
Bust of Antinous with Greek inscription, (AD 130–138), discovered in Balanea, Syria in 1879. Private collection

The most beautiful boy in the Roman empire

Antinous, favourite of the emperor Hadrian, was commemorated all over the Roman world. He is a more troubling figure today

18 Jan 2019