IT MAY COME as a surprise to some readers that until this autumn it has not been possible to study the history of art for a B.A. honours degree at Oxford University. Postgraduate work has long been at the centre of the Department of the History of Art; and undergraduate degree courses are well established at Oxford Brookes University. But from this month, a three-year course has at last been implemented. From the start there is a welcome mix of object-based study and broad considerations of Western and non-Western art, with some emphasis, from the first year onwards, on Greek and Roman art and archaeology (reflecting, of course, the strengths of Oxford collections). Islamic art, one of its second year options, appears specially attractive in the light of the announcement this summer of the benefaction from the Khalili Family trust of £2.25 million for the establishment and endowment in Oxford of the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East.
IN THE EIGHTEENTH century, the town of Dolo, on the Brenta canal between Venice and Padua, proved a charming place for wealthy Venetians to pass their villeggiatura. Three villas, a sixteenth-century boatyard and watermills made the town as popular then as it is today. Its picturesque setting, rustic atmosphere and slow pace of life were captured in views by Canaletto, Bellotto, Cimaroli and Guardi.
WHILE STEFAN KOZAKIEWICZ's monograph on Bernardo Bellotto of 1972 covers fairly definitively the several series of views of northern capitals on which the artist's fame has long and justifiably rested, it is far from exhaustive on the issue of his work in Venice before his departure for Dresden in 1747. As a Pole, Kozakiewicz was both less interested in Bellotto's activity in Italy and had less access to the relevant paintings. He clarified the attributions of most of the Roman views and capricci executed after that painter's visit to Rome in 1742, but accepted only six venetian views as certainly by Bellotto (one of them wrongly, in the opinion of the present writer).
IN 1787 CONSTRUCTION was begun on the Casino Reale, or Royal Hunting Lodge, at Carditello under the direction of Francesco Collecini, one of Luigi Vanvitelli's best pupils. Many of the artisans who had worked for King Ferdinand IV of Naples on the Royal Palace at Caserta were also employed on this project. At about the same time that work was proceeding on the king's Cabinet at Caserta, Ferdinand IV ordered the establishment of a model farm, at the same place in the country where his father, Charles III, had bred horses. Beauty and comfort were to have their part as well because Ferdinand intended to stay there from time to time, and, therefore, the best court artists worked to this end on the interiors of the lodge under the supervision of the German painter Philipp Hackert (1737-1807), who had worked at Caserta.
GIAMMARIA MOSCA, called Padovano, is the foremost sculptor of the Polish Renaissance, but he was trained in his native Italy and was active there for at least a dozen years before his move to Poland. From c.1520 Mosca enjoyed a reputation in the Veneto that secured for him such Paduan commissions as the portal of S. Agnese and one of the nine narrative reliefs in the Cappella del Santo in the Basilica di S. Antonio. In Venice he was entrusted with the tomb of Alvise Pasqualigo in S.Maria dei Frari and half of the high altar in S. Rocco. In his manufacture of small classicising reliefs in multiple versions, destined for the studioli of erudite professors at the University of Padua, Mosca was without precedent.