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

Trick Art: We will get fooled again

From optical illusions to double entendres, an exhibition of trick art at the Grand Palais is confusing and amusing Parisian gallery-goers

The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior, By Paul Strathern

A gifted historical novelist struggles to unify this account of Leonardo, Machiavelli and a Borgia

Seen the 'Mona Lisa'? Check out 'Moaner Lisa'

Chinese artist's parody of the great painting is now on exhibit in the Louvre

After Da Vinci, readers rush to unravel the secrets of Shakespeare

Ever since Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, blending the world of Renaissance art with a fast-paced murder mystery, countless authors have attempted to replicate his success, and failed.

Look beyond Italy to the glories of Spanish art, broadcasters urged

From Kenneth Clark's Civilisation to Alan Yentob on Leonardo da Vinci, when it comes to great art, television keeps on returning to the Italian Renaissance.

Cameron raises possibility of terraces again

Terraces could return to football grounds under a Tory government, David Cameron said yesterday.

Adam Sandler: I'm a millionaire moron

Despite being one of Hollywood's richest actors, Adam Sandler knows how to keep his feet on the ground.

Was Sandi Thom's effortless rise just too good to be true?

It was the stuff of modern fairy tales. A talented but obscure singer becomes an overnight success after she starts performing to thousands of people via an internet webcam in the basement of her London home. But after it was announced on Sunday that Sandi Thom had reached No 2 in the charts with her debut single "I wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)", she found herself the victim of the flip-side of the World Wide Web.

THE INDEPENDENT BOOK GROUP: A love story, for crying out loud

A science-fiction novel reduced our book group members to tears. CHRISTINA PATTERSON reports on an emotional month

Science backs Old Masters versus Hockney in 'tracing' row

Historians hit back at David Hockney's claim that Renaissance artists used optical instruments to create their masterpieces

Euro stars ready to take that major step forward

Langer backs his glorious golfers to convert international success into individual prestige
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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