Saturday, June 24, 2006


We All Make Mistakes---Part I

I've made my share of mistakes in preparing articles. My editors almost always catch them. (I've been fortunate to work with highly intelligent, exhaustively knowledgeable taskmasters: Eric Gibson of the Wall Street Journal and Elizabeth Baker of Art in America, foremost among them.)

So where were the New York Times editors when Roberta Smith, an art critic for whom I have the highest admiration, filed the following, excerpted from one uncharacteristically muddled paragraph in yesterday's review of the "Raphael at the Metropolitan: The Colonna Altarpiece":

His [Raphael's] career was short and driven. The Colonna altarpiece, one of the last he painted, is a telling transitional work....Commissioned by the Franciscan convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Perugia, Raphael's birthplace, it was completed when he was barely 21."

"One of the last he painted...when he was barely 21"??? Flag on the play. That certainly stopped me short when I read it. So today, we have this correction in the Times:

It was one of Raphael's earliest altarpieces, not one of his last. The review also misidentified his birthplace in Italy. It was Urbino, not Perugia.

That settles that. But there's still no penalty on the play of another Times art writer, whose blooper yesterday should have aroused the enervated editors.

More on that soon.

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