Arts feature

‘The Goldfinch’, 1654, by Carel Fabritius

The home of Holland’s celebrity paintings gets a makeover

Arts feature

If things had turned out differently for Brazil — I don’t mean in the World Cup — Recife might now be known as Mauritsstad. But when the Portuguese expelled the Dutch in 1654, the name of the new capital of… Read more


Indiscretions from two veteran producers

Arts feature

Stars, playwrights and even set designers are constantly being lionised in the papers. But why not producers? They, after all, are the ones who choose the plays, the stars, and then make it all happen. Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott… Read more

Characters from ‘Inside Stories’ by Quentin Blake

'I would find myself forging my own work': Quentin Blake on how he came to found the House of Illustration

Arts feature

The illustrator Quentin Blake is uncannily like one of his own creations: tousled, bright-eyed, quizzical, and apologetic about his summer cold. He greeted me warmly and conducted me down a dimly lit hallway into his lair, a studio giving on… Read more


John Bishop interview: ‘My dream was to be Steven Gerrard, but he got there first’

Arts feature

John Bishop doesn’t just tell funny stories. He also tells the sort of life story that makes you sit up and listen. He grew up on a council estate outside Liverpool and, at the age of six, visited his father… Read more

Alex Jennings: still experimenting with the Wonka character

Alex Jennings interview: the new Willy Wonka on Roald Dahl’s ‘child killer’

Arts feature

‘Oompa Loompa juice,’ says the actor Alex Jennings when I ask if he takes any supplements to preserve his looks. He’s 57 but could pass for a decade younger. We meet backstage in his Drury Lane suite, which boasts a… Read more

Le Corbusier’s design for the Maison Dom-ino of 1914, built for the first time, in front of the Central Pavilion at the Biennale Gardens, by a team from the Architectural Association in London

Modernism's dreams – and nightmares – at the Venice Architectural Biennale

Arts feature

An eccentric English aristocrat who constructed a 20-mile network of underground corridors to avoid coming into contact with his fellow humans on his country estate; a Japanese dentist who has amassed an enormous collection of decorative details from buildings spanning… Read more

Nicola Benedetti: ‘I feel entirely fortunate practically all the time’

Nicola Benedetti interview: Bruch, boyfriends and Scottish independence

Arts feature

On  18 September, the Scots will decide whether they want to become independent. But it is only a coincidence that Scotland’s most celebrated violinist is launching an album that brings together Scottish folk music, the tunes of Robert Burns and… Read more


Bill Forsyth interview: ‘If we hadn’t made a go of it, my plan was just to disappear.’

Arts feature

I watched the new DVD of Gregory’s Girl on the train from London up to Edinburgh. I hadn’t seen Bill Forsyth’s school-yard comedy in more than 30 years. Incredibly, it hasn’t dated in the slightest. When I saw it in… Read more

Polly Teale: ‘I often look back now and say how lucky was I!’

Polly Teale interview: Cuts are making the theatre ‘a place where you can only survive if you are from a privileged background’

Arts feature

I spend an hour with the theatre director Polly Teale. She’s 50ish with a tall, willowy physique and strong, aquiline features. Her hair is arranged in a combed bob whose flicky fringe overhangs her bright, deep-set eyes. She’s easy-going and… Read more

‘Stratford St Mary’, 2012, by Justin Partyka

A photographer sheds new light on Constable Country

Arts feature

The phrase ‘Constable Country’ summons up a quintessentially English landscape: river and meadows, open vistas bordered by trees, the greens and golds of cultivated acres, with the wide (and often blustery) skies of East Anglia over all. John Constable (1776–1837)… Read more

New man at Glyndebourne: Robin Ticciati

Robin Ticciati interview: ‘Glyndebourne is a festival where the established and the fresh exist together’

Arts feature

Glyndebourne, the great Sussex opera house, celebrates its 80th anniversary this summer. Hurrah! There is a new music director, too, 31-year-old Robin Ticciati. Hurrah! And he opens the season next week with a new production of Der Rosenkavalier directed by… Read more

Richard Eyre rehearsing the London revival of ‘The Pajama Game’ at the Shaftesbury Theatre

The very best of Broadway – a director's cut

Arts feature

‘America,’ said John Updike, ‘is a vast conspiracy for making you happy.’ If that’s true, there have been few more successful conspiracies than the Broadway musical — that is, the ‘book’ (meaning ‘play’) musical — a dramatic form that blends… Read more


Batman: from midnight monster to pop-tacular star. Kapow!

Arts feature

‘Well, Commissioner, anything exciting happening these days?’ Those were the first words — all seven of ’em — spoken by a new character introduced in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics. That character was a chap called Bruce Wayne.… Read more

‘Livia da Porto Thiene and her daughter Deidamia’, 1552, by Veronese

The National Gallery's Veronese is the exhibition of a lifetime

Arts feature

Paolo Veronese (1528–1588) is one of the great painters of the Venetian School, often joined in an unholy trinity with Titian and Tintoretto. But he was not Venetian, and only arrived in the city when he was well into his… Read more

‘Architectural Exercise in Colour and Form No. 6’, 1962, by Stephen Willats, on show at Victoria Miro

When Britain’s avant-garde weren’t so shouty

Arts feature

When the New York art dealer David Zwirner opened his London gallery in October 2012, observers expected him to make a statement of intent. Zwirner, who the magazine Art Review placed at number two in its 2013 Art Power 100… Read more

‘Portrait of a Lady, known as the “Bella Nani”’, about 1560–5, by Veronese, in the National Gallery’s current exhibition

The curator brain drain

Arts feature

In 1857, the National Gallery’s pioneering director Sir Charles Eastlake bought one of Veronese’s most sumptuous paintings, ‘The Family of Darius before Alexander’. The purchase was met with strident and very personal opposition from a Tory, Lord Elcho, in the… Read more


Why are Shakespeare’s women so feeble?

Arts feature

There’s a problem, as we all know, with female roles in the theatrical canon, and it reaches all the way back to the Bard. Shakespeare’s women lack the richness and variety of his male characters. Modern theatre practitioners have tried… Read more

Julian Mitchell with Rob Callender rehearsing ‘Another Country’

Julian Mitchell on Another Country: ‘I based it on my fury and anger and I wrote it fast and it flowed'

Arts feature

Today’s top public schools are plush country clubs with superb facilities, lovely food, first-class teaching, no fagging, no beating and, one imagines, minimal sexual interference from the staff. Most even have things called girls. While excellent at turning out world-class… Read more

An ambassador for his art: Ivan Vasiliev

Ivan Vasiliev and Roberto Bolle: interview with ballet royalty

Arts feature

In 1845, the theatre impresario Benjamin Lumley made history by inviting the four greatest ballerinas of the day to appeartogether on the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. It is fitting, therefore, that next week, 169 years later, Sergei… Read more

Paloma Faith: ‘I’m interested in perfect contradictions’

Paloma Faith interview: 'If you do something enough times, it becomes you'

Arts feature

Paloma Faith is an unusual pop star. Her flamboyant, retro appearance is upholstered by a deep-thinking mind and she articulates herself in an uncut East London accent. She hangs out with the author Hanif Kureishi and you can expect to… Read more

‘Poet’s Head — O Singing God’ by Mark Shields

'At last I wasn't worried about making pictures': an interview with Mark Shields

Arts feature

Mark Shields is a painter of considerable versatility and skill who is unable to rest on his laurels. Born in 1963 in Northern Ireland, where he still lives, he developed a powerful realist style that owes much to the Old… Read more

Stuart Skelton in the acclaimed ENO production of ‘Peter Grimes’

What now for ENO?

Arts feature

It has been a bracing start to the year at English National Opera. David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes, praised to the skies for the musical performance under Edward Gardner, returned to the Coliseum. Next up is Rigoletto (reviewed on… Read more

Marble portrait of Augustus, c.40 BC

What Emperor Augustus left us

Arts feature

The symbol engraved on Augustus’ signet ring was a sphinx. Julian the Apostate described him as ‘a chameleon’. He seized power declaring himself the saviour of the Roman Republic, but in the process abolished it. He ruled as an autocrat… Read more

Capital asset: Riga’s 2014 programme reaffirms its cosmopolitan credentials

Is it a good idea to splash money on European cities of culture?

Arts feature

As you enter the old KGB building, at the end of Freedom Street, the first thing that hits you is the cold. Outside it’s below freezing. Inside it’s even colder. The cells are in the basement, down a dank and… Read more

On the case:  Inspector Japp (Eric Carte), Poirot (Robert Powell) and Captain Hastings (Robin McCallum)

The 'detestable, bombastic, egocentric' detective — Hercule Poirot lives on

Arts feature

With all the enormous fuss over Sherlock on the telly, David Suchet’s recent retirement from Poirot should not be forgotten. What an incredible innings! The actor finally hung up his patent-leather shoes after a quarter-century of playing the sleuth in… Read more

Illustration by Alex Fine

Is Hollywood finally waking up to the talents of women? Nah

Arts feature

There is, we all know, only one anniversary that matters this year: 20 March 2014, 50 years since The Twilight Zone episode ‘The Masks’ was first beamed into America’s cathode-ray tubes. Bunting will be stretched from television screen to television… Read more

‘Life in the Alps (Triptych)’, 1917–19, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

The best thing to come out of Davos

Arts feature

Another new year and once again the world’s leading CEOs and politicians descend on Davos, transforming this little Alpine town into the world’s most (self-) important talking shop. Yet there’s another side to Davos that’s far more interesting than dry… Read more

Unmissable: ‘The Horse, the Rider and the Clown’, 1943–4, by Matisse will go on show at Tate Modern in April

Art shows you simply mustn't miss in 2014

Arts feature

One of the great treats of the exhibiting year will undoubtedly be Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (17 April to 7 September) at Tate Modern. The last phase of Matisse’s productive career was devoted to making extraordinarily vivid images from painted… Read more