art

Cornelius Varley in Wales

July 3, 2020 3 Comments
Cornelius Varley in Wales

Among the many artists who came to draw and paint in Wales around the turn of the eighteenth century, Cornelius Varley is yet to receive just attention.  The pictures he made in Wales are fresh, delicate and strong, the work of a young man with great visual intelligence who reacted with instinctive wonder and clarity […]

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Chaos describ’d

June 19, 2020 0 Comments
Chaos describ’d

These days chaos as a concept has been captured by mathematics and physics. (Sometimes it gets re-exported to the popular imagination through tropes like the butterfly effect.)  But before that it was available to anyone.  It was especially attractive to philosophers, theologians and mystics, and to creative people like writers and artists. Chaos has always […]

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Time and Johannes Vermeer

June 6, 2020 4 Comments
Time and Johannes Vermeer

Today’s the last day of my imaginary return visit to the city of Delft.  As always, it’s been a time of rest and contemplation among the canals and step-gabled houses facing them.  And as usual I’ve been thinking about Delft’s most famous citizen, Johannes Vermeer, and his paintings – this time, the early works that […]

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The assassin waits

May 29, 2020 0 Comments
The assassin waits

In my lockdown tour of Europe I’m still enjoying my virtual stay in the city of Delft.  I’ve walked a little way from the Nieuwe Kerk to the Prinsenhof in Sint Agathaplein.  Today the Prinsenhof is a museum, and a very good one, but in the late sixteenth century it was the government headquarters of […]

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Carel Fabritius’s ‘A view of Delft’

May 22, 2020 0 Comments
Carel Fabritius’s ‘A view of Delft’

You can take a train to Delft – or you could, in pre-Virus times – walk to the corner of Oude Langendijk and the Oosteinde in the city centre, look to the north-west, and see what the painter Carel Fabritius saw there on a bright summer’s day in 1652.  A few things have changed, it’s […]

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Durer’s ‘A heavenly body’: painting apocalypse

May 4, 2020 0 Comments
Durer’s ‘A heavenly body’: painting apocalypse

Albrecht Durer surely had the sharpest eye of any painter.  Think of his watercolour A big piece of turf, made in 1503, half a millennium before the hyperrealist painters of our own time.  Or the astonishing sketch of his own head and hand on the reverse of the painting in Paris known as Portrait of […]

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Cefn Bryn and the painters

May 1, 2020 1 Comment
Cefn Bryn and the painters

Looking out of the window of my lockdown attic, I’ve a south-west view of south Gower.  If I stretch my neck I can see the eastern end of the ridge of Cefn Bryn, the long sandstone backbone of the peninsula.  All through the bright days of April the sun has set, often spectacularly, on one […]

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One hill, two painters

April 10, 2020 1 Comment
One hill, two painters

Peter Wakelin’s book Refuge and renewal: migration and British art, written to accompany his exhibition of the same name – its run in MOMA Machynlleth was sadly curtailed by coronavirus – is a rich source of information about artists who fled to Britain to escape the Nazis.  A name he mentions in passing on three […]

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Laura Cumming and Degas’ ‘The Bellilli Family’

February 22, 2020 1 Comment
Laura Cumming and Degas’ ‘The Bellilli Family’

Many people have praised Laura Cumming’s book On Chapel Sands: my mother and other missing persons (Chatto & Windus, 2019).  It begins, like a novel, with a sudden disappearance: of her three-year-old mother, in summer 1929, from a sunny beach on the Lincolnshire coast.  Like a detective story it pieces together what happened, and tries […]

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Lucian Freud and Celia Paul

January 25, 2020 0 Comments
Lucian Freud and Celia Paul

Lucian Freud isn’t one of those big artists whose star quickly fades after death.  To judge by a visit to the Royal Academy exhibition of his self-portraits (it finishes tomorrow), his work still attracts plenty of public interest. The paintings were arranged chronologically, so you could follow easily the track of Freud’s development, and how […]

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