Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.
What does “SM” stand for in the context of Leonardo da Vinci? Our visual engagement with the painting has been skewed by fictionalised stories, lurid journalism, and attributional vitriol. For me, SM now stands for “Sensationalised Mess.” How the painting actually works as a devotional image, what it means, and how it embodies Leonardo’s science and art have become lost.
How do our brains help us learn about the spatial relationships in our world and then use them to find our way from one place to another? And how might answering this question offer new insights into how architects design?
Lockdown raves, dodging people in the street, no more hugs, confinement within the home worthy of house arrest—and the language of self-isolation, shelter, safety… all the makings of a sci-fi horror film depicting the world at an end. Or a history book, which is what this pandemic has felt like to me at times, having spent well over a decade thinking about historical epidemiology, specifically in relation to ideas about dance.
A look at the process of reconstructing Claudius’ Arch in Rome and how it was informed by the latest research in archaeology and classical studies to provide a better understanding of the significance of the Roman Invasion of Britain.
Usually considered as the first French Symbolist painter, Moreau rejected the dominant artistic trends of his time in order to explore his own anxieties and longings by returning to the Greek myths.
When planning a trip to Italy, the major cities of Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice are usually on the must-see list. Yet many people also yearn to find the “undiscovered hidden gem” waiting to be explored. For the latter group, Molise is waiting. This region is so underrated that Italians have a running joke: “Il Molise non esiste” (“Molise doesn’t exist”).
The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.
As Europe reopens, consider a Roman road trip that takes inspiration from an ancient travel guide. The Vicarello itineraries describe what we might call the scenic route from Cádiz to Rome. Glimpses of the empire’s superlative architecture can be found along the way, and emerging digital tools can put primary sources at your fingertips.
The question of whether Athens was a Greek or Roman city seems straightforward, but among scholars there is some debate.
OUP have recently announced our support for the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. To further understand the crucial role these subjects play in our everyday lives, we have put three questions to four British Academy SHAPE authors and editors—social and cultural historian Lucy Noakes, historian of objects and faith Eyal Poleg, historical sociolinguist Laura Wright, and Lecturer in Contemporary Art History Mary Kelly—on what SHAPE means to them, and to their research.
What does one do with a castle? The Venetian Terraferma (and, indeed, all of Europe) is dotted with medieval castles that have long outlived the purposes for which they were intended. And yet, built of stone, they are costly to demolish and—more importantly—of great historical interest.
We’re used to travelling long distances to explore exotic new locations—but that hasn’t always been possible. So how did people visit far-flung spots in times gone by? Rachel Teukolsky, author of “Picture World: Image, Aesthetics, and Victorian New Media”, takes us on a fascinating journey in glorious Victoriana 3D, introducing us to the must-have virtual reality tech of the 19th century: the stereoscope.
This second part of our Q&A with Sophie Goldsworthy, Director of Content Strategy & Acquisitions at OUP, and Professor Julia Black CBE FCA, Strategic Director of Innovation and Professor of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and President-elect of the British Academy, reflects on how SHAPE disciplines can help us to understand the impact of the events of the pandemic and look towards the future of SHAPE.
OUP is excited to support the newly created SHAPE initiative—Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy. SHAPE has been coined to enable us to clearly communicate the value that these disciplines bring to not only enriching the world in which we live, but also enhancing our understanding of it. In the first instalment this two-part Q&A, we spoke to Sophie Goldsworthy and Professor Julia Black to find out more about SHAPE and what it means to them.
Sixty world-famous impressionist paintings arrived at the Royal Academy of Arts in London from Copenhagen in March of this year, a whisker before lockdown was imposed. Instead of drawing box-office crowds, they sat in storage for four months. But then the Academy reopened its doors in August with the Covid-secure ‘Gauguin and the Impressionists’. That this exhibition sold out so quickly is testament not only to our hunger for unmediated culture after a period of captivity, but also to the enduring popularity of impressionism.