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Drawings from the Codex Atlanticus were used by a Polish pianist to resurrect the 'mythical' instrument

Brian Viner: How I miss poolside book snobbery

We all know that you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can surely judge people by the covers of their books. Or could, until the Kindle and iPad came along to ruin that peculiar paperback snobbery that the British middle classes take on holiday as surely as they take the Factor 30 and the floppy straw hat.

National Gallery 'too insecure' for Leonardo da Vinci

After security breach, Polish prince reconsiders lending 'Lady with an Ermine' for major exhibition. Matthew Bell reports

Unknown Leonardo to go on show at National Gallery

The National Gallery is to exhibit a previously unknown oil painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. The 1513 painting, Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), shows Christ with one hand raised to make a blessing and the other holding an orb.

Cannes Diary: Lady Gaga, Mona Lisa and Salvador Dali – in 3D. Ready for the surreal deal?

Lady Gaga, famed for treating her body and wardrobe like a moveable art gallery, is set to play the part of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa in a new film inspired by the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

The splendour of Da Vinci, but only for the select few

The National Gallery has taken the unprecedented step of limiting visitor numbers to its forthcoming exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, which opens in November.

National Gallery to reduce Da Vinci crowding



The National Gallery is limiting visitor numbers to a forthcoming exhibition to stop it from being "overrun".

Kite surfing: Prepare to realise Da Vinci's dream

The warm waters and strong winds of Costa Rica's Bahia Salinas makes it the perfect location to learn to fly.

Mona Lisa model 'was male lover'

A male apprentice, longtime companion and possibly lover of Leonardo da Vinci was the main influence and a model for the Mona Lisa, an Italian researcher claims.

Donizetti Lucrezia Borgia, English National Opera

A cinema screen greets us. So either an unscheduled HD Opera Cast is in the offing or director Mike Figgis is making no pretence of flaunting his cinematic credentials. But Lucrezia Borgia – the movie - is only part of the equation here.

After Gauguin, can galleries cope with crowds?

Tourists flocking from around the world to London's art exhibitions are fuelling a surge in "gallery rage" as the art world's connoisseurs bemoan overcrowding at an elite list of blockbuster shows.

Last Night's TV: Beeny's Restoration Nightmare/Channel 4<br />Meet the Parents/E4<br />The Beauty of Diagrams/BBC4

Gawd! What a disaster. Time of economic crisis, etc etc and poor old Sarah Beeny is having problems with her stately home. How. Do. Some. People. Cope. Honestly: there's 97 rooms and everything. It's just too tough. OK, OK, enough with the jibes. Let's be serious. This is a woman in suffering – albeit in a peculiarly privileged, property-and-a-half-owning kind of way. "This is costing a fortune," Beeny pleaded. "It could easily take us down." And so, the plan: to renovate the Hall – bought seven years ago but not, apparently, all that lived in – and rent it out to weddings and parties. Just like Property Ladder, except with higher ceilings (not to say stakes.)

Anthony Rose: Aristophanes said &lsquo;Quick, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever'

Byron wrote of "claret light and Madeira strong" but is wine "bottled poetry" as Robert Louis Stevenson described it? Not, perhaps, if you scan the deathless prose of your average wine tasting note (my own among them). Auberon Waugh was idiosyncratic, once describing a Languedoc red as "hairy and longbottomed"; Kingsley Amis curmudgeonly: "When I hear someone talking about an austere unforgiving wine, I turn a bit austere and unforgiving myself".

The greatest Da Vinci show ever seen

National Gallery to exhibit record number of artist's works

Five cleared of plot to extort &#163;4.2m for stolen Leonardo masterpiece

Five men, including three solicitors, were yesterday cleared of a plot to extort £4.25m for the return of a Leonardo da Vinci painting stolen by axe-wielding robbers from a Scottish castle. The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, completed by Leonardo in about 1501 and thought to be one of just 20 paintings by the Italian master still in existence, was snatched from the ancestral home of the Duke of Buccleuch in 2003 and was missing until October 2007, when it was recovered by police in a raid on the offices of a Glasgow law firm.

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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there