Printing R-Evolution

I have been reading Julian Barnes’s Keeping An Eye Open, in which he remarks (p. 166) that ‘normal ocular fatigue sets in after about ninety minutes’. This is a huge relief, as I had always thought it was just me, but it is particularly relevant in the context of the superb and wide-ranging exhibition currently (and until 7 January 2019) at the Correr Museum in Venice. You will need (in my opinion) much more than ninety minutes, and if your eyes are not out on stalks at the end, you’re a better man than I am (though I have just heard that my ‘occupational’ glasses are ready for collection when I get home, which may help a bit). Continue reading

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Am I, Personally, Responsible for the Death of Venice?

There we were, on a surprisingly (well, we were surprised) misty morning, sitting on our balcony, from which you can usually see the campanile of San Marco (now in the mist), eating our breakfast pastries, when the Guardian intruded with a hand-wringing piece on the plight of the native Venetians, driven out of their own city, and in some cases from their occupations as well, by the soaring costs of square footage in La Serenissima. Continue reading

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Sister of the More Famous Tycho

When I wrote a valedictory piece in another place, before starting my Vita Nuova, I mentioned that one of the many books I might never now read was a biography of Tycho (properly Tyge Ottensen) Brahe (1546–1601), by John Louis Emil Dreyer (1852–1926). The things I knew about Brahe at the time could have been written on a pinhead, and mostly involved his false nose. But now I have read Dreyer on Brahe, and am somewhat better informed – enough so that I need to move on to more recent works about this remarkable man, in the hope that they will provide more information about his equally remarkable sister.

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William Turner, Naturalist

I have mentioned before Dr Richard Pulteney (1730–1801), the sole survivor of eleven children from an Old Anabaptist family near Loughborough, Leicestershire, who was apprenticed to an apothecary and then set up as an apothecary and surgeon in Leicester. After various vicissitudes (partly caused by potential patients being put off by his dissenting background), he settled in 1765 in Blandford Forum, Dorset, where he became a popular physician, though he never ceased to regret that he could not devote all his time to botany. Continue reading

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Plant of the Month: August 2018

This month, I give you Gladiolus murielae, for no better reason (or, in my opinion, the extremely cogent reason) that I have, after several years of trying, actually got it to flower this year! Admittedly, one flower and one bud out of twelve corms is not usually a reason for wild celebration, but it’s much better than the zero I usually achieve. Continue reading

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Enter by the Founder’s

… and exit by the gift shop. You can of course, alternatively, enter via the Courtyard, which takes you through/past the gift shop first, on your way to the café. Cambridge friends will realise that I am taking about the Fitzwilliam Museum, of which the Founder’s Entrance has just reopened after several months of restoration, first of the portico and then of the great dome above the entrance hall. At the same time, a massive but delicate cleaning of the interior has taken place, so that all the gold leaf on the walls and ceiling is glittering like new. Continue reading

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Object of the Month: August 2018

I was recently trying to find out who in Cambridge (apart from the Polar Museum) has any scrimshaw, and was most intrigued to discover – as well as, naturally, bone and ivory carvings – Jane Scrimshaw, immortalised by John Faber the Elder (another artist of whom I had never heard) at the age of 127. Continue reading

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