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The Third of May 1808

   2004    Art
Arguably the most powerful painting about war ever achieved. It portrays the slaughter of civilians after Napoleonic troops entered Madrid in 1808. The programme reveals the historical truths behind the painting and shows exactly how Goya achieved this masterpiece of protest. he painting's content, presentation, and emotional force secure its status as a groundbreaking, archetypal image of the horrors of war. Although it draws on many sources from both high and popular art, The Third of May 1808 marks a clear break from convention. Diverging from the traditions of Christian art and traditional depictions of war, it has no distinct precedent, and is acknowledged as one of the first paintings of the modern era.
According to the art historian Kenneth Clark, The Third of May 1808 is 'the first great picture which can be called revolutionary in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention'. Discover how Goya used drawings by authentic witnesses to depict a real firing squad.
Series: The Private Life of a Masterpiece

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

   2004    Art
This award-winning series, Private Life of a Masterpiece, reveals the full and fascinating stories behind famous works of art, not just how they came to be created, but also how they influenced others and came to have a life of their own in the modern world. The works of art featured here are both instantly familiar and profoundly mysterious. Revolutionary in their conception, and iconic years after their execution, they each have their own compelling stories. For behind the beautiful canvases and sculptures are tales of political revolution, wartime escapes, massive ego clashes, social scandal, financial wrangling and shocking violence. In this fascinating series key works of art are investigated and the intricate details of their lives revealed - the history, contemporary reactions, and legacies of each are illustrated.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is a popular masterpiece and yet an enduring enigma. It seems to show a quiet scene in a Paris park but there are hints at the demi-monde, if you know where to look. The most remarkable aspect of this vast canvas however remains Seurat's technique his revolutionary pointillism.
Series: The Private Life of a Masterpiece

Libraries Gave Us Power

   2012    Art
The story of the British Library's Royal Manuscripts collection reaches its end with the last great flowering of illumination, in the magnificent courts of the Tudors. Dr Janina Ramirez investigates astrological texts created for Henry VII, and unwraps his will - still in its original, extravagantly-decorated velvet and gold cover. She hears music written for Henry VIII, which went unperformed for centuries; and reads love notes between the king and Anne Boleyn, written in the margins of a prayer book. Nina also visits Bruges, the source of many of the greatest manuscripts, where this medieval art form collided with the artistic innovations of the Renaissance.
Series: Illuminations: the private lives of medieval kings

Ruling by the Book

   2012    Art
Dr Janina Ramirez unlocks the secrets of illuminated manuscripts that were custom-made for kings and explores the medieval world they reveal. 'Ruling by the Book.' Janina begins her journey with the first Anglo-Saxon rulers to create a united England, encountering books in the British Library's Royal manuscripts collection which are over a thousand years old and a royal family tree which is five metres long.
Janina finds out about a king who had a reputation for chasing nuns and reads a book created as a wedding gift for a ten-year-old prince. She roams from Westminster Abbey to other ancient English spiritual sites such as Winchester, St Albans and Malmesbury, and sees for herself how animal skins can be transformed into the finest vellum.
Series: Illuminations: the private lives of medieval kings

Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali

       Art
Salvador Dali's strange crucifixion is often called the greatest religious painting of the 20th century. Yet its artist was a notorious blasphemer some of whose work had outraged the Catholic Church. The Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali is the first of two extraordinary crucifixions painted by Dali in the early 1950s. The painting is based on a 'cosmic dream' Dali is said to have had, in which the nucleus of the atom was a figure of Christ himself.
The painting offers a surrealist view of the crucifixion of Christ, and is based on a drawing by the 16th century Spanish friar Saint John of the Cross. But Dali's vision was somewhat unique, using an unusual artistic perspective in which Christ is seen from above. His Christ of St. John of The Cross was inspired by a weird mix of Spanish mysticism and nuclear physics, with his Christ being modelled by a Hollywood stuntman. It's also a masterpiece of painting technique.
Series: The Private Life of a Masterpiece
A Traveler Guide to the Planets
A Traveler Guide to the Planets

   2010    Science
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

   2016    History
Chased by Sea Monsters
Chased by Sea Monsters

   2003    Science
The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury

   2013    Art
In Search of Beethoven
In Search of Beethoven

   2009    Art
Through the Wormhole Season 6
Through the Wormhole Season 6

   2015    Science