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Caravaggio

   2006    Art
Caravaggio's approach to painting was unconventional. He avoided the standard method of making copies of old sculptures and instead took the more direct approach of painting directly onto canvas without drawing first. He also used people from the street as his models. His dramatic painting was enhanced with intense and theatrical lighting. Caravaggio's fate was sealed when he killed a man in a duel in 1606. He fled to Naples where he attempted to paint his way out of trouble, he became a Knight, but was then imprisoned in Malta and then finally moved to Sicily. He was pardoned for murder in 1610, but died of a fever when attempting to return to Rome. For me the power of Caravaggio's art is the power of truth, not least the truth about ourselves. If we are ever to hope for redemption we have to start from the recognition that the Goliath competes with the David in all of us."
Series: Power of Art

The Medici: Makers of Modern Art

   2008    Art
Andrew Graham-Dixon reveals how the Medici family transformed Florence through sculpture, painting and architecture and created a world where masterpieces fetch millions today. Without the money and patronage of the Medici we might never have heard of artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo or Botticelli, and Graham-Dixon examines how a family of shadowy, corrupt businessmen, driven by greed and ambition, became the financial engine behind the Italian Renaissance.

Jacques-Louis David

   2006    Art
Painting became an important means of communication for David since his face was slashed during a sword fight and his speech became impeded by a benign tumour that developed from the wound, leading him to stammer. He was interested in painting in a new classical style that departed from the frivolity of the Rococo period and reflected the moral and austere climate before the French Revolution. David became closely aligned with the republican government and his work was increasingly used as propaganda with the Death of Marat proving his most controversial work.
Series: Power of Art

To Death and Back

   2006    Art
Every day of our lives, we are bombarded by thousands of different images, images which affect us in countless different ways. But of all these there's one particular kind of image whose power is uniquely mesmerising, because while it terrifies us somehow it also comforts. But although it can manipulate us, it also reassures, It's the image of death.
Series: How Art Made the World

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
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   2010    History
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The Life of Mammals

   2002    Nature
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands
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Putin: A Russian Spy Story
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The Planets

   2000    Science