Recent links of note:

“Beatrix Potter’s Eye for Nature”
J. S. Marcus, The Wall Street Journal

Long before Beatrix Potter dreamt up Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor, she was a serious amateur botanist with a special interest in mycology, or the study of fungi. She was so intent upon becoming a scientific illustrator, in fact, that she produced hundreds of detailed watercolors of plants and insects, many of which are displayed in “Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature,” a new exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She was not the only member of her family to harbor scientific ambitions: her uncle by marriage was Sir Henry Roscoe, a famous chemist, who encouraged his niece to submit an illustrated paper to the Linnean Society in 1897. Her passion for the natural world never abated, and she spent her final years breeding Herdwick sheep, featured in a 1938 oil portrait of the author by Delmar Banner. As J. S. Marcus explains in a Wall Street Journal article on the exhibition, her royalties even enabled her to purchase four thousand acres of farmland in the picturesque Lake District, which she left to the Natural Trust. 

“Courting success—the colourful career of Luisa Roldán”
Nicola Jennings, Apollo

A new monograph on the sculptor Luisa Roldán (1652–1706) by Catherine Hall-van den Elsen is the first study of the Spanish artist available in English. Roldán, best known for her polychromatic wood altarpieces and detailed terracottas, trained in the Seville workshop of her father, Pédro, and went on to become the first female sculptor to the Spanish king (Charles II followed by Philip V). Working at the tail end of the Counter-Reformation, Roldán responded to an increased demand from churches, religious orders, and individuals for lifelike devotional sculptures of Christ, saints, and martyrs. In her review for Apollo, Nicola Jennings traces Roldán’s life from her early years in Seville, to her rebellious marriage, to her death in penury. She also addresses the problems surrounding Roldán’s unsigned works. As a woman, Roldán could not sign contracts or join a guild, making it difficult for historians to piece together a clear account of her working life. While elements of her biography remain unknowable, the sculptures themselves have always elicited powerful responses, even prompting the eighteenth-century art historian Antonio Palomino to call her “an immortal.”

Podcast:

“Music for a While #58: I hate music?” Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.

Dispatch:

“Some Mozart, some Gypsy, and more,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a recital by Maxim Vengerov (violin) and Simon Trpčeski (piano) in Carnegie Hall.

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