Books

Self-portrait

David Jones – the 20th century’s great neglected genius

1 April 2017 9:00 am

When Stravinsky visited David Jones in his cold Harrow bedsit, he came away saying, ‘I have been in the presence…

Nothing happens, but everything changes in Sara Baume’s new novel

18 February 2017 9:00 am

This is an extraordinarily compelling novel for one in which nothing really happens but everything changes. Sara Baume’s narrator is…

Siri Hustvedt’s thoughts on art, science and the human condition

21 January 2017 9:00 am

This past autumn has felt more uncomfortable than usual to be a woman looking at men looking at women. From…

‘The upper part of the cascade at Hafod’ by John ‘Warwick’ Smith, 1793

How to view the view

20 February 2016 9:00 am

It’s not all picnics and cowslips. You need sense as well as sensibility to appreciate a landscape, says Mary Keen

‘The Evening’ by Caspar David Friedrich

At the going down of the sun

6 February 2016 9:00 am

One of the epigraphs to Peter Davidson’s nocturne on Europe’s arts of twilight is from Hegel: ‘The owl of Minerva…

Samuel Palmer’s ‘The Harvest Moon’: ‘the bowed forms of peasants are shadows of divinity’

Samuel Palmer: from long-haired mystic to High Church Tory

21 November 2015 9:00 am

In his youth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) painted like a Romantic poet. The moonlit field of ‘The Harvest Moon’ (1831–32) glows…

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Francis Bacon in Paris in 1984

Bacon on the side: the great painter’s drinking partner tells all

5 September 2015 9:00 am

When Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in 1963 to interview him for a student magazine, the artist was already well-established,…

A remote island community is disrupted by the arrival of a troubled teenager

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Benjamin Wood’s first novel, The Bellwether Revivals, was published in 2012, picked up good reviews, was shortlisted for the Costa…

Catherine Lampert, 1986

Frank Auerbach: frightened of heights, dogs, driving, swimming — but finding courage through painting

6 June 2015 9:00 am

With a career of more than 60 years so far, Frank Auerbach is undoubtedly one of the big beasts of…

‘Ash tree in Winter, 2010–13

Patrick George: painting some of his best work at 91

17 January 2015 9:00 am

‘If I see something I like I wish to tell someone else; this… is why I paint.’ Patrick George is…

Jacques-Louis David, emboldened by Madame Vigée Le Brun, included a smiling display of teeth in his portrait of Madame de Sériziat (1795)

How the smile came to Paris (briefly)

13 December 2014 9:00 am

In 1787 critics of the Paris Salon were scandalised by a painting exhibited by Mme Vigée Le Brun. The subject…

Martha Graham and Bertram Ross in Graham’s most famous work ‘Appalachian Spring’ (1944), with a prize-winning score by Aaron Copeland

To call this offering a book is an abuse of language

8 November 2014 9:00 am

I picked up this book with real enthusiasm. Who cannot be entranced by those 20 years after the second world…

‘He thought he could have made it as a visual artist — if only more people had liked his work.’ Above: John Arlott reading (1977) and Kathy and Jessy (1963)

The gentle intoxications of Laurie Lee

28 June 2014 9:00 am

On Laurie Lee’s centenary, Jeremy Treglown wonders how the writer’s legacy stands up

This beautiful new history of Kew Gardens needs a bit of weeding

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Edward Bawden’s Kew Gardens is a beautiful book. Lovers of early 20th-century British art will find it hard to stop…

Caught between a New Age rock and a theory junkie hard place

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Siri Hustvedt’s new novel isn’t exactly an easy read — but the casual bookshop browser should be reassured that it’s…

Saving Italy, by Robert M. Edsel - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

During the civil war, the Puritan iconoclast William Dowsing recorded with satisfaction his destructive visit in 1644 to the parish…

An enigma wrapped in a conundrum

26 May 2012 4:00 pm

What to make of Banksy? Artist or vandal? Tate Modern holds no Banksys and, other than a redundant phone box…

The picture of health

14 April 2012 10:15 am

It must have been hard to settle on a title for this book; but then this is not the book…

Bookends: Disarming but disingenuous

14 April 2012 9:00 am

At first glance, Be the Worst You Can Be (Booth-Clibborn Editions, £9.99) by Charles Saatchi (pictured above with his wife,…

Where dreams take shape

7 April 2012 10:00 am

The question of what artists actually get up to in their studios has always intrigued the rest of us —…

A fine and private painter

31 March 2012 11:00 am

Prunella Clough was a modest and self-effacing artist who nevertheless produced some of the most consistently original and innovative British…

Portraits of an age

3 March 2012 10:00 am

By a fine coincidence, two legendary icons of British art were being feted in London on the same evening last…

Currents of imagery

17 December 2011 9:00 pm

In the first book of his scientific-cum-philosophical poem ‘De rerum Natura’ — or ‘On the Nature of Things’ — Lucretius…

Oh brother!

17 December 2011 8:00 pm

Long in the writing, deep in research, heavy to hold, this is the latest of umpteen biographies of Vincent van…