Most of us can remember, or imagine, the occasions when one took a hasty or otherwise unsatisfactory essay to a demanding tutor. I did not have too much trouble of this sort at Balliol, and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where I was a postgraduate student in the mid-1960s, a number of people were kind enough to say that they thought there was some promise in my writing. I was privileged to gain the friendship of my supervisor, the late Michael Kitson, who in later years helped me to find my way to St. Antony’s. Michael Kitson was almost by nature an art historian, and he was devoted to a discipline that has little recognition in Oxford.

Michael was a shrewd and often challenging man, despite the quiet demeanor that he had inherited from his father, a scholarly East Anglian vicar. “Tim, do you think that Sir Anthony is essentially an architectural historian, as some people say? Have you looked at his Poussi ...