Country Life’s 10 best arts stories of 2020, from the Hay Wain to a taped-up banana

The world of the arts has been heavily hit by the virus this year, but there were still some great highlights. We look back on the ones which proved most popular.

How a taped banana questioned the meaning of art

Credit: PA

No, it’s not quite what we expected either, but Carla Passino’s piece at the very end of last year kept people musing throughout 2020.

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The story of the cottage featured in Constable’s The Hay Wain

Credit: Alamy

Kate Green took a look at the village of Flatford, which provided the inspiration for the classic depiction of rural life.

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The incomparable photography of Helmut Newton

Toby Keel looked at a glittering career that blurred the lines between fashion, photography and art.

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The forgotten masterpieces of Fabergé

Credit: Tessa Hallmann / Brighton and Hove Museum

A chance glimpse of purple and gold in a crowded cabinet led to an extraordinary discovery by Geoffrey Munn.

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How the belt of a goddess revealed the true colours of the Parthenon marbles

Credit: Getty

A mixture of research, original thought and a few gambles completely changed the academic community’s perception of some of the world’s greatest treasures, as Alexandra Fraser explained.

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David Hockney’s years-long mission to ‘photograph the unphotographable’

Lilias Wigan looked at an exhibition of the artist’s mission to create art that captures the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon.

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How Spode went from local ceramics manufacturer to global fame and household name

Credit: Spode Museum Trust, Spode Society and Transferware Collectors Club

This year, Spode celebrated its 250th anniversary. Matthew Dennison told the story of how this English ceramics manufacturer, still based in the Potteries.

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The scandalous child of Empire, the murderous photographer and the woman who fatally brought them together

Credit: Alamy

Eadweard Muybridge was not only the pioneering photographer of motion, but also a murderer. Jason Goodwin told the tale of the dashing rogue and adventurer who became his victim.

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Piranesi, the architect, artist and engraver whose fantasy buildings won him 300 years of fame

In the 300th anniversary year of Piranesi’s birth, Huon Mallalieu celebrated the architectural fantasies of one of the most widely recognised names in 18th-century Italian art: Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

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My Favourite Painting: Jenni Murray

Credit: Alamy

The journalist and broadcaster Jenni Murray talked about a painting that she described as ‘the first illustration of #MeToo’.

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In Focus: The wartime masterpieces of Alfred Munnings

Huon Mallalieu welcomes the opportunity to see a significant body of wartime paintings alongside other works by Munnings in his

In Focus: The Spanish painter whose visceral depictions of martyrdom still have the power to shock

The unflinching representations of brutality in Jusepe de Ribera's images of martyrdom is the focus of a new exhibition, the