Apollo Magazine

Don’t stand so close to me! Art in an age of contagion

Some scenes of art appreciation that wouldn't pass muster in stricter viewing conditions

Tribuna of the Uffizi (detail; 1772–77), Johann Zoffany. Royal Collection. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tribuna of the Uffizi (detail; 1772–77), Johann Zoffany. Royal Collection. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Rules and restrictions designed to contain the spread of COVID-19 are changing rapidly, but Rakewell’s attention has been caught by the Italian government discouraging from hugging, kissing and shaking hands in public – and encouraging everyone to keep a metre away from anyone else in museums. Unfortunately, now that the quarantine restrictions are getting even stricter – at time of writing there is talk of a decree forbidding people to enter or leave Lombardy and other provinces including Venice and Padua until 3 April – museums are likely to be so empty that there will be no need for guards to get out their metre-rules.

Although Rakewell is always pleased to get a gallery to himself, he can’t help sparing a thought for more convivial connoisseurs – and the artworks they have inspired over the centuries.

Call the guards – there are far too many people in the Tribuna of the Uffizi.

Tribuna of the Uffizi (1772–78), Johann Zoffany. Royal Collection Trust. Photo: Royal Collection Trust/© HM Queen Elizabeth II 2020

A good turn-out for Jacques-Louis David makes for a crowd-control headache at the Louvre.

The Public Viewing David’s ‘Coronation‘ at the Louvre (1810), Louis Léopold Boilly. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A reminder of what private views were once like…before they become a lot more private.

A Private View at the Royal Academy (1881), William Powell Frith. Courtesy Martin Beisly

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.


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