Leonardo: Vitruvian Man at the Louvre. Photograph:  Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty

The exhibition that opened at the Louvre this week to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death appears to have fulfilled his ambition “(...)

Rare find: the 13th-century painting attributed to the Italian master Cimabue. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP

It’s amazing what you can find in an old French house. A painting attributed to Cimabue, the 13th-century Florentine genius who started the Renaissanc(...)

Shark tank: Damien Hirst with his piece Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living in 2013.  Photograph: Natalie Naccache/New York Times

Are artists different? Some lines from Thomas Kinsella are stuck in my mind: “I wonder whether one expects/ Flowing tie or expert sex …/ Of poets any (...)

Susie Bioletti, Keeper, preservation and  conservation, Trinity College Dublin in the Long Room with Peter Keegan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch viewing the Book of Dimma, the Book of Garland of Howth and the Book of Mulling.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/THE IRISH TIMES

We have all heard of the heroic role Irish monks played during Europe’s Dark Ages, preserving and copying the continent’s early literature. Less well(...)

Portrait of Eleanor of Toledo (1522) by Agnolo di Cosimo, called Bronzino. National Gallery of Prague

With brief exceptions, the Medici ruled Florence from the mid-15th until the mid-18th century, rising from the lowly rank of traders in textiles to(...)