Category Archives: journalism

Whole worlds conjured up in a few strokes: ‘Watercolour’ at the Fitzwilliam Museum reviewed

Turner’s ‘Shakespeare Cliff, Dover’ (c.1825) I learnt to splash about in watercolour at my grandmother’s knee. Or rather, sitting beside her crouched over a pad of thickly ‘toothed’ paper and a Winsor & Newton paintbox on a wind-swept East Anglian … Continue reading

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‘Unfinished’ at the Courtauld Gallery

‘Turning Road (Route Tournante)’, c.1905, by Paul Cézanne   A while ago, David Hockney mused on a proposal to tax the works of art stored in artists’ studios. ‘You’d only have to say they weren’t finished, and you are the … Continue reading

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Between the death of Turner and advent of Bacon, there was no greater British painter

Walter Sickert ‘The Theatre of the Young Artists’ (1890)   Walter Sickert was fluid in both his art and his personality: changeable in style and technique, mutable in appearance — now dressing as a French fisherman, now as a dandy, … Continue reading

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The only art is Essex – from Eric Ravilious to Grayson Perry

Ravilious in Essex: ‘Two Women in the Garden’, watercolour, 1932 When I went to visit Edward Bawden he vigorously denied that there were any modern painters in Essex. That may not have been true then — this was in the … Continue reading

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How silverpoint revolutionised art

Left: ‘The Virgin and the Child’, c.1509, by Raphael Right: ‘Portrait of an unknown young woman’, c.1435, by Rogier van der Weyden   Marshall McLuhan got it at least half right. The medium may not always be the entire message, … Continue reading

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Eugene Delacroix at the National Gallery

‘The Death of Sardanapalus’, 1846, by Eugène Delacroix   At the Louvre the other day there was a small crowd permanently gathered in front of Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’. They constantly took photographs of the picture itself, and sometimes … Continue reading

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Renaissance master? Rascal? Thief? In search of Giorgione

‘Portrait of a Young Man’ by Giorgione   On 7 February 1506, Albrecht Dürer wrote home to his good friend Willibald Pirckheimer in Nuremberg. The great artist was having a mixed time in Venice: on the one hand, as Dürer … Continue reading

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Hell made fun – the joy of Hieronymus Bosch

‘Visions of the Hereafter’ by Hieronymus Bosch   The 20th-century painter who called himself Balthus once proposed that a monograph about him should begin with the words ‘Balthus is a painter of whom nothing is known. Now let us look … Continue reading

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Is Hilma af Klint a major rediscovery – or a minor footnote?

‘Group IX/SUW, No. 17. The Swan, No. 17’ (1914-5) by Hilma af Klint   In 1896, a group of five young Swedish women artists began to meet regularly in order to access mystical zones beyond the confines of mundane everyday … Continue reading

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Giorgione at the Royal Academy

‘La Vecchia’ (c.1506) by Giorgione   Walter Sickert was once shown a room full of paintings by a proud collector, who had purchased them on the understanding that they were authentic Sickerts. The painter took one look around, then announced … Continue reading

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