The last words of Hungarian-born portraitist Philip de László, spoken to his nurse, were apparently, ‘It is a pity, because there is so much still to do.’ As Duff Hart-Davis’s biography amply demonstrates, for de László, art — which he regarded as ‘work’ as much as an aesthetic vocation — was both the purpose and the substance of his life.
Denys Watkins-Pitchford (1905-1990) illustrated dozens of books under his double-barrel and wrote at least 60 of his own under the two initials ‘BB’.
Some years ago, Edmund de Waal inherited a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke from his great-uncle Iggie, whom he had got to know 20 years previously while studying pottery and Japanese in Tokyo.
This book recounts a terrible story of self-destruction by two painters who, in their heyday, achieved considerable renown in Britain and abroad.
Art fraudsters, especially forgers, have a popular appeal akin to Robin Hood.
Torn with grief, Melvyn Bragg has produced a condolence book for the South Bank Show (born 1978, died of neglect, 2010).
On the southern edge of Kensal Green cemetery, beneath the wall that separates the graves from the Grand Union Canal, is a memorial inscription that would stop a Duns Scotus in his tracks.
I have always been sceptical of those passages in the ‘Ancestry’ chapters of biographies that run something like this: Through his veins coursed the rebellious blood of the Vavasours, blended with a more temperate strain from the Mudge family of Basingstoke.
Angela Thirlwell’s previous book was a double biography of William Rossetti (brother to the more famous Dante Gabriel) and his wife Lucy (daughter of the more famous Ford Madox Brown).
Late in the 19th century, archaeologists digging in the Roman Forum discovered a lime kiln.
You are celebrated as the architect of one of the most famous buildings in the world, now in your late eighties and living quietly in your home outside Copenhagen.
Frank Auerbach (born 1931) is one of the most interesting artists working in Europe today, a philosophical painter of reality who works and re-works his pictures before he discovers something new, something worth saving.
These days, it is easy to take it for granted that Caravaggio (1571-1610) is the most popular of the old masters, yet it was not ever thus.
The Infinity of Lists by Umberto Eco, translated by Alastair McEwen
A postal strike would have been a disaster for Van Gogh.
Spectator readers will know that Andrew Lambirth is a romantic, a force for the literary and poetic approach to art criticism, so he is an admirably empathetic guide to Hoyland
Miranda the Panda is on the Veranda (1958) by Doris Sanders and Patricia Highsmith
Constable in Love, by Martin Gayford
The Ultimate Trophy: How Impressionist Painting Conquered the World, by Philip Hook
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, by Tim Knox, photographs by Derry Moore
Red Star Over Russia, by David King
The Dog: 5000 Years of the Dog in Art, by Tamsin Pickeral
Dogs: History, Myth, Art, by Catherine Johns
The Horse: A Celebration of Horses in Art, by Rachel and Simon Barnes
Stephen Chambers, by Andrew Lambirth
Photopoetry, by Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Paintings in Proust, by Eric Karpeles