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Paul Barolsky

Commonwealth Professor in the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia, Paul Barolsky teaches and writes about Renaissance art and literature. His most recent book, Michelangelo and the Finger of God, was published in 2003 by the Georgia Museum of Art in its Issues in Art History series.


The Fable of Failure In Modern Art

We should not forget that 99 percent of all art-making attempts are failures." Thus declares Phillip Lopate the essayist in his recent book, Portrait of My Body. Although the phrase "art-making attempts" offends one's sense of prose style, Lopate's [...]

The “Meaning” of Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock. Yale. $45.00. This is the beautiful catalogue to the beautiful exhibition of Vermeer seen in Washington at the National Gallery of Art during the winter of 1995—96—one of the greatest exhibitions [...]

Fables of Art

The recent appearance of The Faber Book of Art Anecdotes is a delightful reminder that the history of Western art from Apelles to Jackson Pollock is filled with an abundance of fables that are themselves artful, highly entertaining, and instructive [...]

Lord Byron’s Persona

Lord Byron's Strength: Romantic Writing and Commercial Society. By Jerome Christensen. Johns Hopkins.$34.95.In the history of fame, of what has been called the "frenzy of renown," Lord Byron occupies a singular position as the most famous poet of his [...]

The Painter Who Almost Became A Cheese

We all know Paolo Uccello. He's the loveable 15th-century Florentine painter who pictured Sir John Hawkwood, that "ghostly chessman," as Mary McCarthy called him, in the dark, gothic cathedral of Florence. He is also the designer of three equally f [...]

The Vision of Remrrandt

Rembrandt: The Master and His Workshop. 2 volumes. By Christopher Brown and others. Yale. $110.00. Writing more than half a century ago in what was then the standard monograph in English on Rembrandt, Jacob Rosenberg described a small self-portrai [...]

The Metamorphoses of Michelangelo

Although Michelangelo was a real person who fought with his brothers, rebuked his father, chided his nephew, mocked his rivals, ridiculed his assistants, resented his patrons, worried about being cheated, counted his pennies, invested in real estate, [...]

Joyce’s Distant Music

as with those musical airs which are for ever returning, and cause you pain, you love them so much. Gustave Flaubert When John Huston's The Dead opened at the end of 1987, the film was acclaimed by many critics as a masterpiece. For the dire [...]

The Case of the Domesticated Aesthete

What one man invents another can discover. Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes, though of recent invention, is one of the most popular characters in English literature. After Hamlet, some would say, he is the most famous of them all. He has b [...]

Kenneth Clark and the Vision of Criticism

Moments of Vision & Other Essays. By Kenneth Clark. Harper & Row. $13.50. Kenneth Clark, who died in May, had gathered together eleven essays and lectures before his death. They range over a wide variety of topics from provincialism to the concept [...]

Walter Pater’s Renaissance

A flood of publications on the elusive Victorian scholar-aesthete, Walter Pater, has appeared during the last two decades. As plans for a critical edition of his works are now being made, the writings on him continue to flow from the presses, thre [...]

The Cheerfulness of Dutch Art

The Cheerfulness of Dutch Art: A Rescue Operation. By Oscar Mandel. Davaco. $16.00 paperback. "Once we jettison the idea that Dutch genre painting, still lifes, landscapes, seascapes were glum sermons inspired by didactic prints, we can return [...]