Friday, 21 March 2014

British Renaissance

For those of us wishing to escape the tedium of BBC One's Sport Relief - three hours of celebrities doing daft and sometimes dangerous things for charity - BBC Two is offering a new 3-part arts series A Very British Renaissance at 9pm this evening (CLICK). Art historian Dr James Fox, looking like a BBC newsreader in his suit and tie, presents his rather obvious thesis that the Renaissance didn't just happen in Italy; it spread throughout Western Europe, especially to Germany, and arrived on British shores with a handful of foreign artists in the early part of the 16th century. Of course the Renaissance wasn't merely an improvement in art. It shrugged off the medieval yoke and brought in fresh ideas to architecture, literature and science. Shown is Holbien's superb drawing of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, when he was about 15 years old. Henry got the chop a few years later. This is one of a collection of Holbien's preparatory drawings kept in Windsor Castle.


At 22/3/14, Anonymous Kris said...

Yet again a programme that appears more concerned with being media arty - and promoting the presenter rather than the art.

The opening sequences in Florence featured several close-ups of the statue "Rape of Polyxena". Unfortunately that was sculpted by Pio Fedi in 1865. Do the supposedly expert presenters ever watch the whole programme before it goes to air?

It's the same egregious mistake that was made in the BBC "Renaissance" series a few years ago. In that one they really put their foot in it by making it the lingering subject of a discourse on Renaissance sculpture.

At 22/3/14, Blogger Ian Cox said...

Hi, Kris

I quite agree.

My guess is that the presenter has done his thing when the filming is finished; then the director and editor cobble the whole thing together to their own satisfaction, and they don't really know what they're doing, apart from splicing the video together to fit the time schedule.

What I found particularly irritating was all the lingering out-of-focus shots of Dr Fox, as though trying to imbue him with a sense of mystery he didn't deserve. I thought his thesis was pretty damned obvious, although some of his examples surprised me.

At least he didn't speak through the Thomas Tallis recording, but the daft idea of his peeling off his comments and dropping them on the floor struck me as being idiotic, an attempt by the director to bring some unnecessary visuals to the music. I would have preferred to watch the choir sing.

As for that ghastly mixture of classical styles in what is now a safari park! Woburn Abbey? Longleat? I wouldn't proclaim that as A Very British Rennaisance, more a complete abortion.


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