2020 April eNewsletter

April 03, 2020

Following our last newsletter we were all heartened by the warm and generous expressions of support we received. I am sorry if we have not been able to contact you directly to say a proper ‘Thank You’, but as you can imagine, we are under some considerable pressure just now. CICERONI will survive – but it is a tough time for some of our fellow AITO members, and I fear some travel companies may not be with us for much longer.

Both Emma and Chloe are working remotely from their homes while James is today flying back to Italy. Stephen and I are making plans for both this, and next years’ programmes. The office remains open and should you call, you will speak to one or other of the four of us – a great pleasure in these unnaturally quiet days.

It is now clear that our Spring 2020 tour programme will be lost in full, and many of you have asked if we will re-run the cancelled tours next year? The answer is most definitely YES! We are in the midst of rearranging our 2021 programme such that all tours due to operate between March and June of this year, 2020, will now be operated in Spring and early Summer 2021. This means that some, though not all, of the intended tour programme for 2021, published earlier this year in the January mailing, will be offered in 2022.

We have been in touch with suppliers to discuss the new dates for next year and are happy to say we have had confirmed agreement for some of the tours, and we await confirmation for the suggested dates for the remainder. You can find the new 2021 proposed programme on our website here with a clear indication of each tour’s status. For those with existing bookings on this year’s tours, we will shortly start writing to participants detailing your options - either to transfer your booking across to next year, or for refunds. This will be done on a tour by tour basis and we ask for your continued patience as we dismantle this year’s programme and rebuild for 2021.

Titian Paining Cover of Artilce

On a different note, just before the government introduced the recent total ‘shut down’ I was able to make a very quick visit to London to see the exhibition at the National Gallery, Titian – Love, Desire, Death. It opened on Monday, 16 March and I was lucky enough to see it the following day as it closed temporarily on the Wednesday of that week. The official exhibition closing date is 15 June, so if the National Gallery reopens before then, please try to see it as it was a most moving display.

As you may know, we have a Study Day in connection with the exhibition scheduled for 13 May and we very much hope that this may still be possible? Meanwhile, by way of anticipation I have written a review of the exhibition. You can download the review here. We have also put a link in a ‘news’ item on our website here. For those with an iPad we recommend you import it into the ‘books’ app.

Titian Venis and Adonis

You might also like to note that this Titian exhibition is due to continue at three of the other four art galleries whose generous loans made this ground breaking art historical event possible: Edinburgh’s Scottish National Gallery 11 July – 27 September; Madrid’s Prado 20 October – 10 January; and Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 11 February – 9 May next year. So, should we not be able to feast our eyes on these spectacular works in London, we must hope for the opportunity elsewhere. The catalogue for the London, Edinburgh and Boston versions of the exhibition, which has the same name, Titian – Love, Desire, Death, is available and the ISBN number is 978 1 8570 9655 2, and costs £25. The Prado will publish a separate catalogue.

In addition, from later this month the website will have a regular series of reviews and comment pieces. These will come from our team of lecturers and tour managers, in the hope that we can keep you ‘in the picture’ with regard to the wider art world while looking forward to better times to come.


Meanwhile, I have hauled out from their winter slumbers all our 42 pots of lilies for the coming summer season, some of which you can see breaking soil while grouped round our fish pool in the photo at the top of this newsletter. Many of these come from the excellent Harts Nursery in Cheshire and I can thoroughly recommend them as a supplier of quality bulbs. Some of you may remember one of our recent Christmas cards which featured a spectacular display of Robina lilies, pictured again immediately above? These were sourced directly from Harts, significantly cheaper than via some of the nurseries which sell them off already potted up, having bought the bulbs directly from Harts.

Lily Beetle 1000 x 500

Regular participants on our garden themed tours will know that I am keen on pest control and with lilies, enemy number one is the dreaded red backed lily beetle, Lilioceris merdigera. For those who suffer from the attention of this pest, they are already out and about and I suggest first, spray your lilies from first appearance above soil level regularly with a mixture of water and pure peppermint essence, which is thought to dampen their sexual ardour. Second, and perhaps more effective, are regular patrols to spot, catch and kill the beetles - vital, in fact. In my experience the optimum time is mid to late afternoon – this is when they are sexually most active and it is SO satisfying to catch and squash two at a time, for squash you must.

Finally (and hopefully), here is something to cheer all of you up: each month while this crisis lasts, our team of lecturers will select small details from a series of paintings, buildings and other works of art and invite you to identify from which work of art or building the details have been chosen. All correct entries will then be put into a hat and the lucky person drawn forth will be given a voucher for a free place on a future Study Day - once these are up and running again.

Putti Detail

So, for our inaugural contest pictured above are some putti which I have chosen. All you need to do is email me with the name of the artist, the title of the work of art from which the detail has been taken and the gallery or collection where the painting can normally be seen. Entries should be sent by email to tomduncan@ciceroni.co.uk and the closing date is 5.00pm on Monday, 27 April. The winner will be announced in the May e-newsletter.
All best wishes from ‘Team CICERONI’!

Tom Duncan

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