Nigel McGilchrist won a scholarship at Oxford and three University prizes and medals in English and in Art History. He is an art historian who has lived and worked in the Mediterranean area – Italy, Greece and Turkey – for almost thirty years. He worked for a period for the Italian Government’s Ministero dei Beni Culturali (Ministry of Arts) as an external consultant in the field of fresco conservation, at the time that the Vatican was embarking on its controversial cleaning of the Sistine Chapel. He worked with Prof. Federico Zeri, J. Paul Getty’s closest art advisor and Italy’s greatest living art historian in the 1980s. He was Director of the Anglo-Italian Institute in Rome for six years, taught at the University of Rome, for the University of Massachusetts, and was for seven years the Dean of European Studies for Rhodes College and the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. For the last three of these institutions he has successfully offered studio classes in 15th century tempera painting in order to open students’ minds to the physical complexity and craftsmanship of early painting; and it was in these classes that this proposed book had its genesis. He still lectures widely in art and history at museums and institutions both in Europe and in the United States.
While on the Board of Editors of the Blue Guides series, the world’s oldest English-language cultural and artistic guides, he contributed essays on art and artists to several of the new editions on Italy. In 2010, after a period of seven years in which he walked every path and village of the sixty inhabited Greek Island in order to prepare a completely new survey-guide of the archaeology, art, history and ecology of the Greek Islands, his series of twenty volumes under the title McGilchrist’s Greek Islands was published. It was selected by The Economist for its list of ‘Best Books in 2010’. An extensively abridged, single-volume version appeared as the Blue Guide to Greece: the Aegean Islands in the same year. McGilchrist has also written reviews for the London Review of Books and The Economist.