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Contre Goncourt

Francis Haskell, 18 March 1982

Painting in l8th-Century France 
by Philip Conisbee.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £20, October 1981, 0 7148 2147 0
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Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime 
by Norman Bryson.
Cambridge, 281 pp., £27.50, January 1982, 0 521 23776 9
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... Like last year’s student riots in Switzerland, the fact that there have recently been historiographical disturbances, sometimes of a heated kind, affecting what have long seemed to be the most placid and amiable of all artistic schools – those of Dutch 17th-century genre painting and of French 18th-century painting in general – may come as something of a shock to those members of the public who do not keep their ears uncomfortably close to the ground ...

What we think about painting

John Barrell, 25 June 1987

Past and Present in Art and Taste: Selected Essays 
by Francis Haskell.
Yale, 256 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03607 8
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... in Europe, at different times the friend of Byron, Foscolo and Canova.’ In this manner, Francis Haskell begins the third of his selected essays, written over the last twenty years and brought together in this volume. It is a manner which seems to parody, in its relentless accumulation of the circumstantial, a lost genre of writing, the late ...

High-Spirited Barbarians

Lawrence Stone, 28 April 1994

History and Its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past 
by Francis Haskell.
Yale, 558 pp., £29.95, June 1993, 0 300 05540 4
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... has to be set this vast, immensely learned, superbly illustrated, and deeply depressing volume by Francis Haskell, which tracks the futile efforts of historians, century after century, to make some credible and non-ideological use of the visual records of the past. What, he asks, has been the impact of the image on the historical imagination? His short ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter Campbell: Caravaggio, 8 February 2001

... before. In The Ephemeral Museum: Old Master Paintings and the Rise of the Art Exhibition, Francis Haskell, who was chairman of the advisory committee for this show, describes how Old Master ex-hibitions began as more or less random displays of available pictures and only later became more scholarly. Their origins were varied: auction sales in ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... They discovered that Blunt had recently given a lecture in Oxford and had been the guest of Francis Haskell, the professor of art history there. Haskell was obviously suspect, since he had a Russian mother and a Russian wife and had been to King’s College, Cambridge, so the press surrounded his house, making it ...

Upward Mobility

Bruce Boucher, 31 March 1988

Venetian Villas 
by Michelangelo Muraro.
Rizzoli, 514 pp., $85, January 1987, 0 8478 0762 2
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Picturing Art in Antwerp, 1550-1700 
by Zirka Zaremba Filipczak.
Princeton, 247 pp., £37.60, February 1988, 0 691 04047 8
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The Painful Birth of the Art Book 
by Francis Haskell.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 500 55019 0
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... arduous about the latest of the Walter Neurath Memorial Lectures, except, perhaps, its title. Francis Haskell’s subject is the painful or rather protracted development of the art book, those large volumes built on superior illustrations of painting and sculpture. In tracing its origins, he returns to the field which he exploited so successfully in ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 25 July 1991

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... Spender) three have previously been published. Alfred Brendel writes about humour in music, Francis Haskell on controversies about the transition from Late Roman to Early Christian art; Bernard Williams, in a wonderful and unsummarisable essay called ‘Naive and Sentimental Opera Lovers’, writes about distinctions in operatic taste, the sources ...
Hans Memling: The Complete Works 
by Dirk de Vos.
Thames and Hudson, 431 pp., £95, October 1994, 0 500 23698 4
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... by the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga. His views have been recently brought to our attention by Francis Haskell in his fascinating and sceptical History and Its Images: Art and the Interpretation of the Past. In his Waning of the Middle Ages (published in English in 1924), Huizinga rejected the established view that the realistic mode and richness of ...


Peter Burke, 20 March 1986

Velazquez: Painter and Courtier 
by Jonathan Brown.
Yale, 322 pp., £35, March 1986, 0 300 03466 0
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El Greco and his Patrons: Three Major Projects 
by Richard Mann.
Cambridge, 164 pp., £35, February 1986, 0 521 30392 3
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... expense of the social and intellectual milieu. All this is an old story. Now that works such as Francis Haskell’s Patrons and Painters (first published in 1963) and Michael Levey’s Painting at Court (1971) have made the social history of art respectable, it is becoming quite difficult to remember the time when it was virtually restricted, or ...


Nicholas Penny, 18 February 1988

Painting as an Art 
by Richard Wollheim.
Thames and Hudson, 384 pp., £28, November 1987, 0 500 23495 7
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... great proponents of this method in the English-speaking world: T.J. Clark on the theoretical, Francis Haskell on the anecdotal, wing’, but dismisses both as not promising much ‘as far as my interests, or the central problems of the study of art, are concerned’. Both these writers have done much to discourage the sort of confidence Wollheim ...


Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy 
edited by F.W. Kent and Patricia Simons.
Oxford/Humanities Research Centre, 331 pp., £35, June 1987, 0 19 821978 4
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Pienza: The Creation of a Renaissance City 
by Charles Mack.
Cornell, 250 pp., $43.95, June 1987, 9780801416996
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Piety and Patronage in Renaissance Venice: Bellini, Titian and the Franciscans 
by Rona Goffen.
Yale, 285 pp., £30, July 1986, 0 300 03455 5
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Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance 
by Margaret King.
Princeton, 524 pp., £42.90, April 1986, 0 691 05465 7
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The Venetian Patriciate: Reality versus Myth 
by Donald Queller.
Illinois, 386 pp., $29.95, September 1986, 0 252 01144 9
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Tradesman and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c.1250-c.1650 
by Richard MacKenney.
Croom Helm, 289 pp., £35, January 1987, 0 7099 1763 5
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Florence, Rome and the Origins of the Renaissance 
by George Holmes.
Oxford, 273 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 19 822576 8
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From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in 15th and 6th-Century Europe 
by Anthony Grafton and Lisa Jardine.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £29.95, January 1987, 0 7156 2100 9
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Renaissance and Revolt: Essays in the Intellectual and Social History of Early Modern France 
by J.H.M. Salmon.
Cambridge, 306 pp., £30, June 1987, 0 521 32769 5
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... the Frari record a rivalry almost in the class of the one described a quarter of a century ago by Francis Haskell, between Francesco Morosini, the Venetian Captain-General of the Sea in the later 17th century, and Antonio Barbaro, his subordinate in the war of Candia, dismissed for incompetence, who used the façade of Santa Maria del Giglio, not far ...


Nicholas Penny, 18 March 1982

Michelangelo and the Language of Art 
by David Summers.
Princeton, 626 pp., £26.50, February 1981, 0 691 03957 7
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Bernini in France: An Episode in 17th-Century History 
by Cecil Gould.
Weidenfeld, 158 pp., £12.95, March 1982, 0 297 77944 3
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... squabbling super-powers today. The political circumstances were admirably summarised long ago by Francis Haskell in Patrons and Painters. Gould should read this book more carefully. He alleges that it propounds the crazy theory that ‘Bernini’s mission was planned by the French as a further means of humbling the Pope.’ Bernini’s bust of Louis ...

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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... Here, at last, is a book of which we can sincerely say in the old phrase that it meets a long-felt want. It offers, in the modest words of the Preface, ‘a series of illustrations (which are now often impossible to find except in specialised libraries) of the principal sculptures which were at one time accepted as masterpieces’ – that is, of antique statues with which, until a hundred years ago, the educated public were expected to be familiar ...

Models and Props

Nicholas Penny: Caravaggio in the Studio, 10 August 2000

by Catherine Puglisi.
Phaidon, 448 pp., £24.95, May 2000, 0 7148 3966 3
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Caravaggio’s Secrets 
by Leo Bersani and Ulysse Dutoit.
MIT, 118 pp., £18.50, September 1998, 0 262 02449 7
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by Peter Robb.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7475 4599 5
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Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History 
by Mieke Bal.
Chicago, 305 pp., £28.50, October 1999, 0 226 03556 5
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Doubting Thomas: A Novel About Caravaggio 
by Atle Naess, translated by Anne Born.
Owen, 159 pp., £14.95, June 2000, 0 7206 1082 6
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Caravaggio: A Life 
by Helen Langdon.
Pimlico, 447 pp., £15, November 1999, 9780712665827
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... the only new recruit made in the 20th century to the first rank of Old Masters was (as the late Francis Haskell pointed out) Georges de La Tour, whose brilliantly lit pickpocket and solemn, candlelit Magdalen both derive from Caravaggio’s inventions. The reassessment of Caravaggio was in part due to the advent of loan exhibitions, to the cleaning and ...

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