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The Misery of Not Painting like others

Peter Campbell, 13 April 2000

The Unknown Matisse: Man of the North, 1869-1908 
by Hilary Spurling.
Penguin, 480 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 14 017604 7
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Matisse: Father and Son 
by John Russell.
Abrams, 416 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 8109 4378 6
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Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse 
by John O’Brien.
Chicago, 284 pp., £31.50, April 1999, 0 226 61626 6
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Matisse and Picasso 
by Yve-Alain Bois.
Flammarion, 272 pp., £35, February 1999, 2 08 013548 1
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... as one soon learns from the letters he wrote to his son Pierre in the 1930s and 1940s (quoted in John Russell’s Matisse: Father and Son) – even the old Matisse was far from the calm, masterful presence one might have imagined, anxious as he was as a father and misunderstood, so he thought, as a husband. For the evidence of his art and his life to ...

He fights with flashing weapons

Katherine Rundell: Thomas Wyatt, 6 December 2012

Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest 
by Susan Brigden.
Faber, 714 pp., £30, September 2012, 978 0 571 23584 1
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Graven with Diamonds: The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Courtier, Poet, Assassin, Spy 
by Nicola Shulman.
Short Books, 378 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 1 906021 11 5
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... of expression’. Now English poetry, dormant since Chaucer and Lydgate, got to its feet and sang. John Leland, a friend of Wyatt’s youth, later wrote: ‘The English tongue was rude, its verses vile/Now, skilful Wyatt, it has known your file.’ The only blot on Wyatt’s record was his marriage to the daughter of a Kentish baron, Elizabeth Brooke. We do ...

When the Mediterranean Was Blue

John Bayley, 23 March 1995

Cyril Connolly: A Nostalgic Life 
by Clive Fisher.
Macmillan, 304 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 333 57813 9
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... or Byronic about him. Though his funny face had great charm he was the reverse of handsome: John Sparrow, in one of his feline mots, remarked that ‘the trouble with Cyril is that he is not so beautiful as he looks.’ But he was a living repository of nostalgia, and of the most stylish sort of self-pity; and these, if properly served up, can be a ...

Lawful Resistance

Blair Worden, 24 November 1988

Algernon Sidney and the English Republic 1623-1677 
by Jonathan Scott.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £27.50, August 1988, 0 521 35290 8
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Seeds of Liberty: 1688 and the Shaping of Modern Britain 
by John Miller.
Souvenir, 128 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 285 62839 9
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Reluctant Revolutionaries: Englishmen and the Revolution of 1688 
by W.A. Speck.
Oxford, 267 pp., £17.50, July 1988, 9780198227687
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War and Economy in the Age of William III and Marlborough 
by D.W. Jones.
Blackwell, 351 pp., £35, September 1988, 0 631 16069 8
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Robert Harley: Speaker, Secretary of State and Premier Minister 
by Brian Hill.
Yale, 259 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 300 04284 1
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A Kingdom without a King: The Journal of the Provisional Government in the Revolution of 1688 
by Robert Beddard.
Phaidon, 192 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780714825007
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... to the Revolution of 1789; and it was thought as well to say nothing in favour of Hampden, or Russell, or Sydney, for fear it might give spirits to Robespierre, Danton or Marat.’ Four years later the same journal warned, in terms drawn from Fox, that while ‘the doctrine of resistance’ was to be commended for having ‘placed the present Royal family ...

What Gladstone did

G.R. Searle, 24 February 1994

The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain 
by Jonathan Parry.
Yale, 383 pp., £30, January 1994, 0 300 05779 2
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... gave ‘Reform’ MPs a defining political cause and a leader under whom they could rally: Lord John Russell, dubbed by Parry ‘the greatest Liberal statesman of his age’. Over the next forty years, the Whig-Liberal Party developed a distinct set of policies and, more importantly, an idiosyncratic approach to public life. As might have been expected ...

Dealing with Disappointment

Adam Phillips: Bertrand Russell, 8 March 2001

Bertrand Russell 1921-70: The Ghost of Madness 
by Ray Monk.
Cape, 574 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 224 05172 5
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... In the introduction to the first volume of his biography of Russell, Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude, Ray Monk was clear, as his title indicated, about the story he had to tell, though also daunted by the amount of material he had to work with. The bibliography of Russell’s work lists more than three thousand publications, and this doesn’t include the letters he wrote – over forty thousand of them ...

Rumour Is Utterly Unfounded

Jenny Diski: Family Newspapers, 8 October 2009

Family Newspapers?: Sex, Private Life and the British Popular Press 1918-78 
by Adrian Bingham.
Oxford, 298 pp., £55, February 2009, 978 0 19 927958 6
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... Divorce cases and crime reports were reliable ways of insinuating sex into the newspapers. The Russell divorce case in 1922 would excite a tabloid editor even today. The court and then the public learned that the marriage was unconsummated, but that Lady Russell had nevertheless given birth to a son and was shown to have ...

Looking big

Asa Briggs, 12 March 1992

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Engineering Knight-Errant 
by Adrian Vaughan.
Murray, 285 pp., £19.95, October 1991, 0 7195 4636 2
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... of Vaughan comes at the end in the description and evaluation of the role of Brunel’s colleague John Scott Russell in the story of the Great Eastern. Vaughan draws substantially on the important book The SS ‘Great Eastern’ by Russell’s biographer ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore, 8 August 2002

Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... wasn’t in any case very enthusiastic about Nicholson’s work at that stage). But John Piper, who had tried his hand at pure abstraction, had by now turned to topography and was therefore recruited; and when Clark was shown Moore’s first shelter drawings, he was able to say that there was no reason now for Moore to fight shy of being a war ...

Odd Union

David Cannadine, 20 October 1994

Mrs Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 415 pp., £18, October 1994, 0 670 84159 5
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... Cruickshank, Rowlandson and Dent; and portrayed by Romney, Beechey, Hoppner, Matthew Peters and John Russell. Nor has she been entirely forgotten by posterity. To be sure, she was not even mentioned by name in Percy Fitzgerald’s two-volume life of King William IV, published in 1884. But she merited an entry in the Dictionary of National ...

Forever Unwilling

Bernard Wasserstein, 13 April 2000

A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789-1939 
by David Vital.
Oxford, 944 pp., £30, June 1999, 0 19 821980 6
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... good old Bob Boothby is in. Franz Rosenzweig is invisible, but there are four references to Lord John Russell. Forget Kafka, Freud, Durkheim, S.D. Luzzatto, Chagall, Sholom Aleichem and (aside from fleeting mentions) Mendele Moikher Seforim and J.L. Peretz. The last three were the most celebrated writers of the golden age of Yiddish literature: like all ...

Top Brands Today

Nicholas Penny: The Art World, 14 December 2017

The Auctioneer: A Memoir of Great Art, Legendary Collectors and Record-Breaking Auctions 
by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem.
Allen and Unwin, 312 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 1 76011 350 6
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Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and Its Dealers 
by Philip Hook.
Profile, 282 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78125 570 4
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Donald Judd: Writings 
edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray.
David Zwirner, 1054 pp., £28, November 2016, 978 1 941701 35 5
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... part in this story, though classical architecture certainly was. Duveen’s favourite architect, John Russell Pope, supplied a mausoleum for the Huntingtons, adapted Frick’s townhouse as a public gallery and designed the National Gallery of Art. The increasingly difficult and radical character of modern art may have further reinforced these ...

Swearing by Phrenology

John Vincent, 3 February 2000

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism 
by Conrad Russell.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £12.95, September 1999, 0 7156 2947 6
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... the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and that of Liberal Democratic politics today. Indeed, Conrad Russell goes further than that; he not only makes a claim for continuity over a very long period, but maintains that this sprang from a common root in liberal political philosophy, especially that of Locke, Bentham and Mill. One may perhaps put aside for the ...

Conrad Russell’s Civil War

Blair Worden, 29 August 1991

The Causes of the English Civil War 
by Conrad Russell.
Oxford, 236 pp., £35, November 1990, 0 19 822142 8
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The Fall of the British Monarchies 1637-1642 
by Conrad Russell.
Oxford, 580 pp., £40, April 1991, 9780198227540
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... For fifteen years Conrad Russell has dominated that most embattled and most heavily populated area of historical study, the origins of the civil wars of mid-17th-century England. In doing so, he has banished controversy to the margins. This is a highly unusual accomplishment. Advances in contentious historiographical territory are generally achieved through baronial feuds, not through submission to a monarchy ...

Adrenaline Junkie

Jonathan Parry: John Tyndall’s Ascent, 21 March 2019

The Ascent of John Tyndall: Victorian Scientist, Mountaineer and Public Intellectual 
by Roland Jackson.
Oxford, 556 pp., £25, March 2018, 978 0 19 878895 9
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... On 21 December​ 1859 John Tyndall, a professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution, set out to measure the structure and movements of the Mer de Glace, a glacier above Chamonix. In previous summers he had collected data on several Alpine glaciers, but no one had ever attempted to do so in winter. He got to Folkestone but bad weather meant crossing the Channel was impossible and he returned to London ...

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