Ernst Gombrich gave his final lecture at the Warburg Institute in January 1997, a paper on the Sassetti Chapel in the church of Santa Trinita, Florence. It was some six decades since he had first arrived in England as a refugee from Vienna. He went straight to the Warburg, where he remained for the rest of his working life, retiring as director in 1976. A tutor at the Courtauld Institute tipped me off that the Sassetti lecture was one to hear. Arriving late, I found the only place left was a small patch of ground in front of where Gombrich sat. The lecture was complex, delivered in his still-thick Austrian accent, and the only strong memory that remains for me, apart from the slides of Ghirlandaio’s imposing frescoes, was that Gombrich was wearing a pair of dazzling Nike trainers.
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