Apollo Magazine

The Apollo podcast: learning from the Old Masters

Thomas Marks talks to Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe from Sotheby's Institute of Art about how we can deepen our understanding of Old Master paintings

The popularity of exhibitions such as ‘Charles I: King and Collector’ at the Royal Academy is a reminder of just how large and enthusiastic an audience still exists for Old Master paintings. But in the 21st century, when fewer people than ever can tell a Saint Roch from a Saint Augustine, or distinguish the period of a painting from its drapery alone, how many of us have the specialist knowledge that allows for a profound appreciation of the Old Masters? How would our understanding of paintings change if we knew more about their condition, or the history of their display, or how their market value has fluctuated historically? And how would we set out to gain such knowledge?

Those are some of questions that Thomas Marks puts to Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe in a new podcast sponsored by Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Brotherton-Ratcliffe is an expert on Old Master paintings who has been teaching at Sotheby’s Institute of Art since 1989, and currently lectures on the MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design, taught in London. In the podcast, she makes the case for how important it is to teach connoisseurial skills, and introduces some of the more unusual methods that she has adopted for doing so. Listen to the podcast now to find out why ‘if you haven’t drawn it, you haven’t seen it’, and why you really ought to wear sunglasses next time you stand in front of a Caravaggio painting.

Click here to go to iTunes where you can download the podcast.