King Richard III and Queen Anne

The Nature of Noble Loyalty

It’s spring in London and the flowers are bursting forth on Cheyne Walk, which skirts the edge of the River Thames until it gives way to the Chelsea Embankment. I have ambled along the street for nearly an hour identifying plaques representing the famous people who’ve lived on nearly every block. Finally, I’ve reached Roper’s […]

Virgil Reading the Aeneid

Far from Oblivious in Bologna

If you find yourself strolling along the streets of Bologna near the city’s center, don’t be surprised if you turn a corner and come upon an anomaly. It will stand unapologetically as traffic whizzes by, a thumb of unruly masonry with its flanks sawed off. The amputations were necessary to make way for thoroughfares teeming […]

Château Pédesclaux in Bordeaux

Architecture with Heart in Bordeaux

In the preface to the book Grand Bordeaux Châteaux: Inside the Fine Wine Estates of France, Philippe Chaix describes discovering Bordeaux as a bewitching act: on foot, he reports, it means ambling through the city of stone and gazing into its mirror-like river. Setting off to explore the Mèdoc and Saint-Èmilion, he notes, the experience makes […]

The gardens at the Château Vaux-le-Vicomte

Heaven Shall Be Here

In the film A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman, who plays an unlikely Louis XIV, declares, “Heaven shall be here.” He’s speaking of a ballroom he has commissioned for the gardens at Versailles, which will be realized by one of the most visionary landscape architects during the 17th-century, André le Nôtre (played by Matthias Schoenaerts), and […]

Antonio Cotti paints "Dante in Verona"

Reading Dante in Milan

“I’d like that sunny table near the windows under the beautiful mirror,” he says to the hostess at Le Vrai, pointing to the niche set with two café tables, perfect for reading Dante all afternoon. Only a few decades earlier, the waistcoat and watch fob dangling from its pocket would have been out of place, […]

Whitehall Palace with the Banqueting House

The Built Legacy of Henry VIII

The 2016 Academy Awards are handed out this coming Sunday so I’m celebrating a film that showcases the built legacy of Henry VIII to delve back into the subject I began here on February 2nd. The movie that showcases Henry VIII’s architectural heritage so beautifully is A Man for All Seasons, which swept the Oscars in 1967 […]

Allington Castle in modern times

Renovating During the Tudor Era

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. Looking back to the Tudor Era from this great distance, it’s easy to see how barbaric a sport jousting was. But before you feel all modern and lofty, consider America’s devotion to football, even after the discovery of its deadly occurrence of brain trauma. If you can’t imagine our country […]

Whistler gilded the walnut latticework forming the shelves.

The Peacock Room à la Whistler

The most recognizable painting by artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler might lead you to believe he was as Puritan as his upbringing. The fact he could render such a realistic homage to piety in Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother)—better known as Whistler’s Mother—does seem to further the illusion […]