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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Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain