Nationalise the royal collection!

The royal collection consists of millions of objects whose purpose and ownership are sometimes obscure. Does the collection serve the monarchy, and if so how? Or is the care of the collection, and of the palaces that contain it, the sacred duty of the Queen? Housed throughout the royal palaces, it includes works held by the Queen in trust for the public as well as those owned personally by Elizabeth Windsor, such as valuable paintings by Monet and Paul Nash that were bought by the late Queen Mother and not taxed as part of her estate. This is the sort of confusion that needs to be cleared up to prevent

Raphael – saint or hustler?

For tourists to Rome, the must-see event of 1833 was the exhumation of Raphael from his tomb in the Pantheon. For years the city’s Accademia di San Luca had been claiming possession of the artist’s skull and running a profitable line in souvenirs. That September, the question would be settled. Was the ‘most eminent painter’, lauded in his friend Pietro Bembo’s fulsome epitaph as having ‘lived virtuously 37 virtuous years’, really buried there? And did his skeleton have a head? Hans Christian Andersen was one of 3,000 ticket holders for the six-day lying-in-state. The skeleton was there all right, complete with head, but its dignity, reported Andersen, was somewhat dented

Why the Royal Academy is wrong to consider selling their precious Michelangelo

How much does a Michelangelo cost? It is, as they say, a good question, meaning: nobody really knows. The reason for this odd state of affairs is that almost none of them have ever been bought and sold on the open market, which is how the prices of most things are established. It’s hard to think of many examples of his sculptures being traded in that way over the past 500 years. Strangely, the main exception is the ‘Taddei Tondo’, otherwise known as ‘Virgin and Child with the Infant St John’, which, reportedly, some members of the Royal Academy are suggesting the RA should sell. If that were to happen,