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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz