About: Nigel McGilchrist

I’ve lived and worked in Italy, Greece, and Turkey for almost 30 years. An art historian by training, I’ve served as director of the Anglo-Italian Institute in Rome, taught at the University of Rome, and been dean of European Studies for Rhodes College and the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. I’m also on the board of editors of the Blue Guides series and have contributed to several new editions on Italy. Over the last seven years I’ve walked every path and village of the inhabited Greek Islands for the new Blue Guide of its archaeology, history, and ecology, which was released in September 2010 and named one of the best books of the year by The Economist. I live near Orvieto, Italy, where I produce my own olive oil and red wine.

Posts by Nigel

Posted in Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum

My Odyssey through the Aegean Islands

Paros marble, Milos Obsidian, and Naxos emery

Art historian and archaeologist Nigel McGilchrist is taking us to the Aegean—and you can come along! On January 13, he’ll give a free illustrated talk at the Getty Villa on his nearly seven years exploring seventy of these beautiful islands,… More»

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      #ThyCaptionBe: You Look Like Hell

      You captioned this detail. And we’re revealing the full story now.

      Escaping the in-laws or medieval Sea World? It’s actually an extreme punishment for a dress code violation. 

      Here’s the full story:

      The Christian tale of Saint Josaphat is roughly based on the life of the Buddha in a kind of medieval game of telephone, in which the sources for the text passed through Christian circles in the Middle East in the 8th century before appearing in European versions in the 11th century. 

      Here an unsuitably dressed guest—we can see that his tattered clothing and scruffy facial hair have no place at the well-dressed gathering—is cast into the dark, open mouth of a terrifying animal. 

      To make matters worse, the story is a parable in which Barlaam, Josaphat’s Christian teacher, describes the sinful who do not make the cut at the Last Judgment.

      Holiday Lesson: Always check the dress code.

      #ThyCaptionBe is a celebration of modern interpretations of medieval aesthetics. You guess what the heck is going on, then we myth-bust.


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