Sep 182018

Konstam will demonstrate evidence that the Parthenon was damaged by pollution from the Phidian foundry.  This evidence radically alters both the arguments for the marbles return to Greece and the aesthetic assumption that Greek originals are vastly superior to the Roman copies. On the contrary, the Roman copies from the Parthenon have been more widely praised than the Greek originals. There are four ways in which the layman can tell Greek from Roman (colour, texture, style and weathering). The experts have chosen to ignore this disturbing news.
For this and other relevant discoveries see
In photograph one can confuse shadows with soot. To be fully convinced you need to see the primary evidence at the British Museum with your own eyes.
It is hoped that doubters will enliven the debate on Nov. 4th.2018

Your comments and support on YouTube may promote truth in art history by bring  these discoveries to a wider public.

Sep 182018

British historian Nigel Konstam (correction Nigel is actually a sculptor and teacher and founder of the Verrocchio Art Centre) has published a booklet arguing that many of the works stolen from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the 1800s are in fact Roman reproductions of the Greek originals.

His theory is based on the recent discovery of a chimney near the Parthenon used by the great 5th century sculptor Phidias to cast his giant bronzes.

Konstam suggests that the originals had been eroded by acid rain caused by chimney effluent.

He argues that the Roman statues were carved differently and look much cleaner than the Greek ones, which were etched (carved) with fragile iron and bronze tools, causing bruising and microcracks which allowed the smoke to penetrate deeper.

The British Museum’s senior curator Ian Jenkins described Konstam’s theory as “radical”.

“I have never heard before the connection between Roman replacements of the west pediment sculptures of the Parthenon and smoke…Nobody been so radical as to suggest that the entire west pediment is a Roman replacement,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

Lord Bruce a descender of Lord Elgin is not convinced. Speaking to the British tabloid he said he can’t believe there was that much pollution caused by the chimney.

“His theory is at least not as ridiculous as one currently doing the rounds that the Parthenon was a burial ground for young maidens,” he added.

Aug 062018

In his“Triumph of Art” Part 4 of the TV series Civilizations Simon Schama described Velásquez’ Las Meninas as “a triumph of illusionistic painting”, also, as “a huge brain teaser”. Velasquez himself is “the most cerebral painter of his generation”. Schama asked what is painted on this large canvas we see the back of? possibly the princess or perhaps the king and queen ? “Generation after generation of writers commentators and artists have tried to explain it” but, Schama thinks that “no one has quite got to the bottom of it”. He does not exaggerate the degree to which scholars have found mystery where as a practicing sculptor I have often found a simple, practical explanation for scholars’ mysteries. Of course, it is Las Meninas painted on the front of the huge canvas, self portraits often include the back of the canvas (Las Meninas is approx 3m high). I cannot disagree with his final explanation – the painting is about who is in charge of the way we see but alas my answer is unfortunately the theoreticians, not the painter as Schama implies!

Las Meninas Velasquez

Las Meninas Velasquez

My own inquiry started from the question how did Velasquez actually see what he was painting – obviously he needed a mirror to paint a self-portrait. He could not have seen those standing beside and in front of him without seeing them in the same mirror in which he saw himself; so it must be worth asking the question did he actually use a mirror. It would have had to have been a big one, plate-glass did not exist in 1656 when this picture was painted but there was a hall of mirrors in the royal palace in Toledo which Velasquez was in process of transferring to the new Palace in Madrid at the time he painted Las Meninas. Spain had been receiving tribute from Holland and the mirror we see painted reflecting the king and queen in Las Meninas is in a Dutch frame. The same mirror or an identical one can still be seen in the sacristy of the cathedral in Toledo. We would need two rows of four such mirrors mounted together to cover the figures within the subject matter in the painting. But for a Royal Hall of Mirrors that does not seem an exaggerated possibility. Unfortunately there’s no record of the size of mirrors in the hall but the painting seems to represent the room next door (with minor modifications). When we ask the question did Velasquez actually use a mirror? the answer comes back from the painting itself -YES, eight times. 1. Velasquez changed himself to a righthander, 2. he painted the Infanta in the same year with her parting on the other side of her head. 3 the lighting of the group on the left depends on reflected light from the mirror. Are these not proof enough that he used the mirror I published these ideas in The Artist Magazine in March 1980 but scholars continue to pursue mysteries in painting, clearly miracles are preferred by them to practical explanations.

My straightforward explanation would be useful to artist today who undertake group portraits. It is a technique which I suspect was used by Velasquez’ assistant for his family portrait and by Goya for his royal group, both artists included a self-portrait. But they disguised their method,. Velasquez did nothing to disguise his method. Art scholars think very differently to artists, they prefer written, cerebral evidence to visual clues; and as they have come to dominate the discussion of art in the media and everywhere else, so useful ideas for artists get lost. There seems to be only a one-way traffic between the theoreticians and the practitioners of art. I have offered similar practical explanations for a number of art miracles many of them are on YouTube (see The use of mirrors by Brunelleschi to invent scientific perspective, by Velasquez as above, by Rembrandt to multiply his subject matter and by Vermeer to augment his use of the camera obscura which I believe he used solely to observe unfocused light. Two mirrors crucially helped him to observe light and allowed him to work in a modest sized studio (3m deep). For artists and those who prefer practical explanations to miracles, I strongly recommend my answers to art historical questions.

I can also explain why I believe half the Elgin Marbles are Roman copies. Furthermore, to our surprise the Roman reproductions have been generally preferred to the Greek originals. (see my Elgin Arguments, Also on Youtube

). The extraordinary speed with which the Greeks freed themselves from the previous Egyptian formula which had endured 3000 years can be explained by their use of wax casts from life as the basis of their miraculous transformation in both bronze and stone (see The Bronzes of Riace for bronze and Dionysos for stone). These revelations bring the master works to which they refer down to human scale, examples from which living artists can profit.

I am still looking for a publisher for all this useful information, I have been looking since 1977.

Oct 222015

To become a Rembrandt scholar you need to pass out top of a prestigious course in art history. They are the crème della crème; but they are gravely mistaken about Rembrandt and resist correction no matter what the evidence for revision. This article is designed to convince you they need to be replaced. They will not renew themselves.

They have in fact stood Rembrandt on his head. Reversing his significance of perhaps the world’s most perceptive observer. They seek to persuade us that he worked largely from imagination. I believe that I have demonstrated this to be a fundamental mistake, yet they will not budge. As a simple example see my “Isaac Refusing to Bless Esau” on YouTube. I expect you will agree with me that Rembrandt was at his best as an observer.

Esau and Isaac

Click to play video

This disagreement as to whether Rembrandt relied on observation or invention is a fundamental error, which invalidates large areas of recent scholarship. An error from which Rembrandt scholarship is suffering and has suffer since 1922 at when this important drawing was dismissed – important because it shows us Rembrandt’s strengths and weaknesses. Because I accept the weakness I can believe in over 2,000 drawings by Rembrandt but the scholars’ refusal leads them to accept only 500! His position as a culture hero has fallen proportionately in my life time.

I find it very easy to win the observation argument, so I well understand why the scholars refuse to debate the point in public. Choosing instead to undermine my examples in their private world of scholarly publications so they can continue with their folly undisturbed. I have described the scholarship of Rembrandt drawings as “an unmitigated disgrace” for the following reasons:-

1. My paradigm changing discovery of Rembrandt’s Use of Models and Mirrors in 1974 has been neglected. These findings were published in the Burlington under that title in Feb.1977 (two eminent art historians, Prof. Sir Ernst Gombrich and Dr J. Montagu were thanked for their help in presenting my findings in that article). A similar article was published in Rembrandthuiskroniek vol.1 1978. In both I believe I proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that Rembrandt used groups of live models for himself and his students to work from. This idea is anyway corroborated by contemporaries of Rembrandt; what was all that theatrical wardrobe for if not to produce his groups? (an extensive wardrobe and props is seen in the inventory of his belongings taken in 1656.)
2.Recent Rembrandt scholarship has neglected the historical record, indeed reversed the known facts.
3. Over a period of 90 years they have apparently unanimously accepted this reversal, neglecting an abundance of evidence that should have warned them off. They do this in order to maintain their mistaken ideas of Rembrandt’s development as a draughtsman and his relationship with the school production; they have  substituted theoretical iconography where practical observation explains the school works better. These sins have suffocated the educational atmosphere of art history. The Rembrandt catastrophe could not have happen without unquestioning acceptance of the professor’s dictate.
4. The scholars refuse to discuss and continue with the destruction of Rembrandt in the face of overwhelming evidence of their folly – or worse.
5. As a sculptor of 60 years experience, I find their judgments often outrageous.

Sep 242015


Aug 212015





Aug 192015


Enlargement of newspaper column

Aug 192015


May 222015

I have discovered a number of truths missed by art history which have been vehemently resisted by both artists and art historians. I regard them as important because they explain how some important advances in perception were made. I explain the resistance by the fact that recent generations in both disciplines obviously regard them as cheating: they are the use of mirrors by painters and life-casts by sculptors.

Photography has been used by painters since its invention but this also is regarded as a bit of a cheat. Nonetheless, most of us would agree that we understand the movement of a galloping horse better since photographs fixed the movements for us. Degas also used photography to fix the space in compositions of friends who, for convenience, probably posed for the work one at a time. Before photography Velasquez used a mirror for the same purpose in his masterpiece “Las Meninas”. This work is not only a personal masterpiece but is often regarded as the “epitome of painting”. The evidence for this discovery is overwhelming; the fall of light, the reversal of the image, quite apart from the fact that Velasquez at the age of 56 achieved this entirely untypical masterpiece more swiftly than ever before.

Should not todays painters know of this useful technique? Do we scoff at Galileo because he used a telescope or Pasteur because he used a microscope? Why do we allow science to use technology but not artists?

In fact most of my discoveries demonstrate that many important advances in art were the result of the use of technology: The naturalism which developed in classical Greece between 500 BC and 450 BC was based on life-casting. It broke the traditional Kouroi mould that had lasted nearly 3000 years. Brunelleschi invented scientific perspective by the use of a burnished silver mirror. Velasquez advanced the depiction of space by the use of a much larger mirror and Vermeer captured light by the use of two mirrors. Technology advanced art as it did science. What is the problem?

Like many artists of my generation I believe in the training of observation. This is usually achieved by a combination of practice and a number of tricks to bypass the overwhelming habit of the human brain to abstract and categorize the information that comes to us through our senses. Those of us who had the benefit of a traditional training in art learned to catch the patches of coloured light that came our way  and meditate upon them before the brain substituted a word for sensations. Cezanne described his activity accurately when he advised artists to pay attention to their sensations. Traditional artists are interested in milking the whole meaning from their sensations where average perception is content with the minimum necessary for everyday life. Life becomes richer through such art. With the modern view, which has turned its back on observation, life becomes less rich.

We need to recognize that technology has often advanced perception both in science and art. If only to regain the lost confidence that the “miracles” invented by art history have squashed.

Mar 312015

What would happen if we came to accept that the great Greek achievement in sculpture from the severe/classical period onwards was based on life casting. Would there be a mass break-down among artists, art historians, and archaeologists? This question is prompted by a splendid new exhibition of Hellenistic bronzes at the Strozzi Palace in Florence.

Pliny told us over 2000 years ago that Lysistratos, the brother of Lysippus invented (or rather perfected the art of casting faces from life and then correcting the distortion that inevitably results from the weight of plaster on the soft flesh of the face). I published an article a mere 13 years ago, that pushed the use of bodily life-casting back to the time of Pheidias because I had found evidence in The Bronzes of Riace that proved, beyond all reasonable doubt, that they were modelled over a wax life-cast. The evidence is in the soles of their feet which are formed entirely naturalistically and undoubtedly support the weight of the figure above because the feet are spread and squashed by his weight: note they cannot have been observed in that position as they are firmly on the ground. The soles of course will never be seen by the public. Furthermore, a cast taken from a clay standing model would have no soles, at most a strap or pin to fix the sculpture to a base.

This show is bristling with more evidence as most of the exhibits are life-size, sometimes very large life-size as in the Riace pair. But would one not choose a heroic scale for heroes? There is one proof identical to that of the Riace pair in the Piombino Apollo, which is obviously cast from a child. This pseudo archaic work was immediately questioned by the curator, Jean Letronne when it entered the Louvre in 1834. Ten years later when under restoration a proof in the form of a lead tablet emerged from its interior showing that that it was made by two sculptors of Rhodes. The poor restorer was accused of faking the tablet, there was a private rumpus at the Louvre and the evidence was buried in the archives until 2010 when it was rediscovered and the tablet judged genuine and dated c.330 BC. This sculpture has the same tell-tale soles as the Riace pair, who also get a big spread in the catalogue though not of the Hellenistic period. Yet none of the many experts who contribute to the sumptuous and otherwise highly informative catalogue mention this fact which is obviously central to the way we perceive these works. My article in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology was received in complete silence.

Surely the time has come to recognize the facts and make the necessary adjustments to the history of art. This largest collection of bronzes from the Hellenistic period ever put together, gives an opportunity to appreciate the wonderful workmanship and to hazard that step towards the truth of their production.

Life-casting is clearly a highly emotive subject. My claim to have discovered something that others have missed is based on nearly sixty years of working bronze and wax as a sculptor. I doubt whether any archaeologist could claim the same.