Rosemary Hill

Rosemary Hill’s most recent book is Time’s Witness: History in the Age of Romanticism. Her four-part series, The Lives of Stonehenge, can be found on the LRB Podcast. She is a contributing editor at the LRB. Having dismissed Constable, she is still pondering the subject of her next book.

At the Courtauld: ‘Art and Artifice’

Rosemary Hill, 7 September 2023

In the mid​-1990s, I bought a watercolour from a pleasantly ramshackle antique shop I used to frequent in Walmer. It shows two boats, a yacht and a two-funnel liner on a choppy sea, and has a hefty but cheap gilt frame. The painting is done in a flat, naive style, reminiscent of Alfred Wallis, though the colours are not like his and anyway it is signed. The initials ‘S.B.’ in a...

‘I’m  most frightfully sorry but it’s the fucking awful weather!’ It was the monsoon season of 1944 and Noël Coward was flat on his face in the mud in the Burmese jungle. He was there to lift morale and raise funds for the 14th army, which was engaged in a brutal struggle against the Japanese. Known as the ‘forgotten army’, its predicament was...

At Kettle’s Yard: Lucie Rie

Rosemary Hill, 15 June 2023

The first impression​ of Lucie Rie’s work is of circles. Spirals, rings and discs characterised her ceramics from the beginning and although the exhibition at Kettle’s Yard (until 25 June) is arranged, with admirable clarity, in a chronological sequence, that too suggests a circularity, themes revisited and variations played out over time. One of the most beautiful pieces, a pink...

For those of us who had not grown up in houses where there were grand pianos or interesting pebbles thoughtfully arranged to catch the light, Kettle’s Yard was an introduction not only to the work of particular painters and sculptors but an experience in itself, an idea about what art and life could be. 

Coiling in Anarchy: Top of the Lighthouse

Rosemary Hill, 16 February 2023

As an enigmatic symbol, the lighthouse has long held an imaginative appeal. The Pharos at Alexandria was remarkable among secular buildings, E.M. Forster wrote, in having ‘taken on a spiritual life of its own’, being, in effect, worshipped, so that ‘long after its light was extinguished, memories of it glowed in the minds of men.’ A secular age still feels a need for the light that shines in the darkness and for comfort in places of danger.

Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

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Very Pointed: Pugin

Dinah Birch, 20 September 2007

Modern lives look prim beside the turbulent existence of Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Distractions and misfortunes proliferated throughout his career: shipwreck (he was in his own boat,...

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