Francis Bacon's Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X
Everything but the sink: 1646 kitchen scene by the Flemish painter David Teniers the Younger, now restored to Robert Walpole’s former Norfolk home

Charles Darwent on visual Houghton Revisited: There's much to learn by taking a dim view of art

As it did 250 years ago, Velázquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X peers into the gloom at Houghton Hall. It is an extraordinary image in an extraordinary space.

Peter O'Toole tending the bar

Soho's bohemian past remembered

The Colony Room Club in Dean Street closed its doors in 2008, but Sophie Parkin's engrossing, 300-page portrait of it brings that small, smelly, green upstairs bar-room into vivid life again. Opened in 1948, and presided over by Muriel Belcher, a bisexual Brummie, it was “far away from the maddeningly normal crowds outside.”

Invisible Ink: No 164 - Andrew Sinclair

There is such a thing as too clever.

An auctioneer receives bids for Gerhard Richter's work 'Abstraktes Bild' during the Sotheby's London Evening Sale of Contemporary Art held at Sotheby's, New Bond Street, London.

Sotheby's raises a 'healthy' £74 million at contemporary art auction

It was a "healthy" night of sales at Sotheby's yesterday evening as a contemporary art auction brought in more than £74 million - the auction house's second-highest total for a February sale of contemporary art in London.

Arise, Sir Danny
Formerly known as the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle is now a national hero who gave us cycling doves, dancing suffragettes, five golden rings, the Queen's acting debut and Tory MPs frothing at the mouth about multi-culturalism. We smell a New Year's Honour.

If we really want to show Danny Boyle our appreciation for the Olympics opening ceremony, a knighthood isn't the way

The Oscar-winning director has turned down a knighthood, and publicly. Good on him

Tamara Beckwith turns wheeler dealer for Channel 4's Four Rooms

She will join a panel of 'experts' helping the public sell antiques

The best Christmas gifts for the art lover

Main image: Arctic hare, £120, The Shop Floor Project; frames, from £5, John Lewis

My Edinburgh: Alan Davies, Comedian

The first time I went to Edinburgh was in 1986 when I was at The University of Kent and we did a musical version of Aristotle’s 'Lysistrata'. 

Ravel's 'L'heure espagnole'

L'heure espagnole/ L'enfant et les sortilèges, Glyndebourne, East Sussex
Tête à Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios, London
The Francis Bacon Opera, Camden Arts Centre, London

Glyndeborne's double bill of Ravel operas captures the composer's delicate touch and ability to combine laughter and pain

Christie's to showcase £200m of Constable, Renoir and Bacon masterpieces

Masterpieces by the likes of Constable, Renoir and Bacon, together valued at more than £200 million, were assembled today for a free temporary exhibition.

Pablo Picasso - La Lecture: £25.2m

Art world's big spenders help Sotheby's to a billion-pound year

It might seem that everything is crashing down around us in Austerity Britain, but judging by the bumper sales figures disclosed by one London auction house, now could be the perfect time to cash in on those artistic masterpieces gathering dust in your attic.

Culture to comfort us: When did we become so culturally conservative?

We are taking refuge in the past, whether it's 'Call the Midwife' and 'Downton' on TV, Coward and Rattigan at the theatre, or neo-Romantics in the galleries. Where's the sensation? By Philip Hoare
Jenny Agutter, Jessica Raine and Judy Parfitt in 'Call the Midwife'

The shock of the old: When did we become so culturally conservative?

We are taking refuge in the past, whether it's 'Call the Midwife' and 'Downton' on TV, Coward and Rattigan at the theatre, or neo-Romantics in the galleries. Where's the sensation, asks Philip Hoare?

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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
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Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us