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Mount Amery

Paul Addison

20 November 1980
The Leo Amery Diaries 
edited by John Barnes and David Nicholson, introduced by Julian Amery.
Hutchinson, 653 pp., £27.50, October 1980, 0 09 131910 2
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... Politics are three-quarters drudgery, so it takes a special ingredient to enliven the diary of a politician. Harold Nicolson and Chips Channon wrote splendid diaries because they were not so much politicians as sublime social columnists who happened to sit in the House of Commons. Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle were heavyweights and professionals, and the eternal grind of committee life is reflected ...

False Moderacy

T.J. Clark: Picasso and Modern British Art

22 March 2012
Picasso and Modern British Art 
Tate Britain, 15 February 2012 to 15 July 2012Show More
Mondrian NicholsonIn Parallel 
Courtauld Gallery, 16 February 2012 to 20 May 2012Show More
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... to his advantage. That was partly because he belonged to an embattled, arrogant, entirely serious modern art culture – Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Krasner, Hans Hofmann, the sculptor David Smith – which had spent a decade submitting to the master. ‘Aha,’ Gorky is supposed to have said coldly to de Kooning on first being shown the younger artist’s Picasso-saturated work, ‘so ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper

29 March 2017
The Art of John Piper 
by David​ Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... come to be both a pioneer of international modernism in Britain and a dainty recorder of English country houses. In the mid-1930s Piper, as secretary of the influential Seven and Five Society on Ben Nicholson’s recommendation, was making collages with cut-up newspapers in imitation of Cubist papiers collés; he made constructions from string, experimented to find out what could be done with a single ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Eleanor Birne: The Reopening

22 March 2018
... wife, Helen, had lived in Hampstead, where Braque, Naum Gabo, Diaghilev and Nijinksky were among their many visitors – along with artist friends from closer to home, particularly Ben and Winifred Nicholson. In 1956, the Edes returned to England and Jim started looking for a suitable building. He wanted to buy a former stately home but didn’t have the money. Eventually, he found four small condemned ...


Christopher Tayler: Nicholson​ Baker

3 November 2011
House of Holes 
by Nicholson​ Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... Sometimes,’ a woman says during phone sex in Vox, Nicholson Baker’s first foray into smut, ‘I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I’d be turned into a mist and I would rematerialise in the room of the ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... a letter of condolence to his parents and his death was announced in the Times (the paper was decent enough to print a correction without charge). In 1918, returned from the dead, he married Nancy Nicholson (daughter of William Nicholson the painter, sister to Ben Nicholson and herself a skilful illustrator and designer), with whom he had three children by 1922, although it was never quite clear how ...

Old Gravy

Mark Ford

7 September 1995
Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 
by Miranda Seymour.
Doubleday, 524 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 385 40423 9
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Robert Graves and the White Goddess 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 618 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 297 81534 2
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Robert Graves: His Life and Work 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 600 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7475 2205 7
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Robert Graves: Collected Writings on Poetry 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Carcanet, 560 pp., £35, June 1995, 1 85754 172 3
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Robert Graves: The Centenary Selected Poems 
edited by Patrick Quinn.
Carcanet, 160 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 9781857541267
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... it only this side Hope, somewhere, In streams, on sun-warm mountain pasturage, True life, natural breath; not this phantasma. Graves sought release from his own ‘phantasma’ in marriage to Nancy Nicholson, with whom he had four children, but, as poems like ‘Song of Contrariety’ or ‘Love in Barrenness’ testify, the relationship failed to provide Graves with the justification of his existence ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie

22 March 2001
Spirit of an Age: Paintings from the Berlin Nationalgalerie 
National Gallery, 192 pp., £19.95, March 2001, 1 85709 960 5Show More
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... the story of German unification in 1815, contributed to the formation of national consciousness. In them a German style (Gothic), storm clouds and the rising sun, stand for national renewal. Caspar David Friedrich’s symbolic stricken oaks and silent moonrise-watchers address the nation’s soul rather than its politics, but there, too, the search for a way to a German national future is evident ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David​ Lean

3 July 2008
... A recent Italian book on the films of David Lean is called Colour and Dust, and with an amplification or two the phrase offers a pretty good description of his later work. The colour is mainly orange, and a lot of the dust is sand, especially ...


Christopher Nicholson: Rare Birds

22 November 2018
... what is now Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. In other words, cream-coloured courser territory. And indeed, in his 1862 book The Illustrated Natural History – Birds, the Rev. J.G. Wood, the David Attenborough of his day, states that the cream-coloured courser ‘seems to live chiefly in Barbary or Abyssinia’. In the late 1860s, with the publication of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy ...

Feigning a Relish

Nicholas Penny: One Tate or Two

15 October 1998
The Tate: A History 
by Frances Spalding.
Tate Gallery, 308 pp., £25, April 1998, 1 85437 231 9
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... visited for its gallery of Old Masters. In 1816 it was emptied of its collection to help fill gaps in the Louvre and it reopened in 1818 as a gallery for pictures by great living artists (including David, then in political exile). The creation of the first European museum of modern art was thus something of an expedient, but the political impulse behind it was not ephemeral. No subsequent French ...

Calcutta in the Cotswolds

David​ Gilmour: What did the British do for India?

3 March 2005
Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India 
by Elizabeth Buettner.
Oxford, 324 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 19 924907 5
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... seventh in the Public Works Department, while their sister married two civil servants in succession. John Lawrence, the future viceroy, was one of five brothers working simultaneously in India; John Nicholson, the hero of the siege of Delhi, was one of four brothers who died there. No family, however, sent as many members to India as the Lochs of Drylaw, whose contribution to the Jacobite cause had forced ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Let the Right One In’

14 May 2009
Let the Right One In 
directed by Tomas Alfredson.
November 2008
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... blokes with the odd cat-loving weirdo thrown in, and one ill-treated woman whom even the movie has some trouble remembering. The men all grin and gesture with a fake jocularity which makes Jack Nicholson look like a model of sense and sincerity, and this effect was compounded for me, through no fault of the director, by the badly dubbed version I saw. This had the advantage of added eeriness because ...

At Piano Nobile

Eleanor Birne: Jean Cooke

18 April 2019
... then, in 1953, she met John Bratby. The year after they got together and got married – it took a week – Bratby finished his studies at the Royal College of Art and, thanks to a famous essay by David Sylvester in Encounter, found himself at the head of a movement. ‘Everything but the kitchen sink? The kitchen sink too,’ Sylvester wrote to describe the work of Bratby and others – Derrick ...

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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... not exhibition art might be possible. Circle, an ‘international survey of Constructive art’ edited by the architect Leslie Martin, the Constructivist sculptor Naum Gabo and the abstractionist Ben Nicholson, was published in 1937. Although they roped in a few contributors, such as Herbert Read, who were willing to give the Surrealists (for example) the time of day, only non-representational painting ...

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