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Nation-States and National Identity

Perry Anderson, 9 May 1991

The Identity of France. Vol. II: People and Production 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sian Reynolds.
Collins, 781 pp., £25, December 1990, 0 00 217774 9
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... The Making and Unmarking of British National Identity in 1989.* In his rich keynote essay Raphael Samuel put his emphasis on the second of these processes. Distinguishing British from English identity at the outset – as harder and more formal, its connotations military-diplomatic-imperial rather than literary or rural, but also more inclusive ...

The Shoreham Gang

Seamus Perry: Samuel Palmer, 5 April 2012

Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer 
by Rachel Campbell-Johnston.
Bloomsbury, 382 pp., £25, June 2011, 978 0 7475 9587 8
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... these might not sound like the ingredients of a very satisfactory work of art; but the picture, Samuel Palmer’s The Valley Thick with Corn, conjures a masterpiece out of its incongruous elements in a way that is wholly exemplary of the artist at his best. Palmer’s technique seems to have been unique, a striking combination of intricate pen-work and ...

Rub gently out with stale bread

Adam Smyth: The Print Craze, 2 November 2017

The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550-1820 
by Antony Griffiths.
British Museum, 560 pp., £60, August 2016, 978 0 7141 2695 1
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... lions, cows, goats); landscapes, views and ruins; and, most strikingly, pieces of the human body. Samuel Pepys, a century before, would have called these ‘brave cutts’. Page after page displays eyes, chins, mouths (grinning, aghast, pursed), ears, hands and feet, each part excised from the whole to float in a manner both exemplary and forlorn. This is the ...

On the library coffee-table

Clive James, 17 March 1983

An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration 
by Mario Praz, translated by William Weaver.
Thames and Hudson, 396 pp., £35, March 1982, 0 500 23358 6
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by Keith Roberts.
Phaidon, 48 pp., £10.50, March 1982, 0 7148 2226 4
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Monet at Argenteuil 
by Paul Tucker.
Yale, 211 pp., £15, April 1982, 0 300 02577 7
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... even at the time. Lately I have picked up the crown folio volumes devoted to Botticelli, Vermeer, Raphael, Velazquez and Leonardo. I note them in the chronology of their publication, which was a chronology of war and the time leading up to it. The Leonardo was published in 1944, the Velazquez in 1943, the Raphael and ...

On holiday with Leonardo

Nicholas Penny, 21 December 1989

The New Museology 
edited by Peter Vergo.
Reaktion, 230 pp., £23, September 1989, 0 948462 04 3
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The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750-1850 
by Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 314 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 300 04225 6
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Journal of the History of Collections, No 1 
edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor.
Oxford, 230 pp., £23, June 1989, 0 00 954665 0
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... aged proprietor. Illuminated by the last rays of the sun is the portrait of Jesus Christ by Raphael. The spectres of the religious and beliefs of ancient and distant races crowd upon him. In the course of this astonishing tour de force Balzac invokes Cuvier, the ‘greatest poet of the century’ – greater even than Byron. The palaeontologist’s ...

A Republic of Taste

Thomas Crow, 19 March 1987

The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt: ‘The Body of the Public’ 
by John Barrell.
Yale, 366 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 300 03720 1
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... it lacked the prestige it now commands. In 1660, for example, the French philosopher and essayist Samuel de Sorbière wrote the following on the subject of the amateur art historians in and around the Royal Academy of Painting: Their great aptitude consists in knowing how to identify the artist after glancing at a picture, then being able to pronounce on his ...

Martinis with the Bellinis

Mary Beard, 31 July 1997

The Roy Strong Diaries 1967-87 
Weidenfeld, 461 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 297 81841 4Show More
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... often to dramatic effect; but also a series of stunning temporary exhibitions (Richard III, Samuel Pepys, Cecil Beaton’s photographs) which had ‘the whole of London agog’ and queues of people round Trafalgar Square. These ‘Diaries’ – in fact, partly reworked versions of a variety of ‘jottings’ and more crafted set-pieces, interspersed ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... the viability of ballads like ‘Chevy Chase’ and other transgressions of ‘fancy’. Only Samuel Richardson really strove for refinement, which, as the result proved, was writing against his grain. Refinement was of course a strong, though highly ironised, element in Sterne’s novels. Even Reynolds was quite capable of the ‘impoliteness’, the ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, 19 January 2017

by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... places, the realising of a caprice. The placeness of the non-place – think of the titles of Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872), or News from Nowhere – has been central to utopian thought, and has moved in lockstep with European attitudes towards colonisation. Mundus Novus, a pamphlet containing a letter supposedly written by the explorer Amerigo ...

Berenson’s Elixir

Simon Schama, 1 May 1980

Bernard Berenson: The Making of a Connoisseur 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 477 pp., £9.50, June 1979, 0 674 06775 4
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Being Bernard Berenson 
by Meryle Secrest.
Weidenfeld, 473 pp., £8.50, January 1980, 0 297 77564 2
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... States, where the big-game of major-league millionaires – Peter Widener, James G. Johnson, Samuel Kress – had leapt to profit from his publicised expertise. This was sometimes prompted by motives of undisguised envy and covetousness amongst themselves. On learning of BB’s descent on Widener’s optimistically attributed collection J.P. Morgan ...

Perfection’s Progress

E.H. Gombrich, 5 November 1981

Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900 
by Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny.
Yale, 376 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 300 02641 2
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... of the literature on the subject quoted by the authors. One is reminded of the splendid chapter in Samuel Butler’s Erewhon describing the ‘Musical Banks’ which demand and exact reverence, though their currency is of no practical value. Butler, of course, aimed his satire at the Church, but what is nowadays called the ‘Art World’ has always shared ...

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding, 16 April 2020

... Paris climate accord goals,’ Read said in a conversation with the Australian environmentalist Samuel Alexander. ‘And that means that we will most likely see three to four degrees of global overheat at a minimum, and that is not compatible with civilisation as we know it.’ These scribes of the rebellion accept that the ‘climate tragedy’ – to use ...

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