Chance

Some years ago I was having dinner in a handsome brick townhouse built in the early 1700s when a small soft piece of leather with a ribbon in a bow was passed around – a tiny child’s shoe. It had just been found under centuries-old plaster, recently removed to...

Authentic or Not?

I was asked to look at a painting and pronounce whether it is an authentic work by Zoffany, an 18th-century portrait painter.  Is it really his autograph work? As I write his name, my memory conjures up visions of gentlemen and women, in formal or informal poses, in...

A Gift?

I always looked forward to Tristram Hunt’s articles in the Observer when he was a university lecturer and later became a Labour MP. It was a pity that he gave up any idea of ever being promoted in his party because of the posh associations of his first name. My heart...

Into Winter

In the Château de Chantilly there is a gem of a work of art. It’s an illuminated manuscript referred to as the ‘rich hours of the Duke of Berry’ – Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. It is so fragile that it is rarely on display, but on the one occasion that I did...