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The Raphael Question

Lawrence Gowing, 15 March 1984

by Roger Jones and Nicholas Penny.
Yale, 256 pp., £15.95, May 1983, 0 300 03061 4
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The Drawings of Raphael 
by Paul Joannides.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £65, July 1983, 0 7148 2282 5
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Drawings by Raphael from English Collections 
by J.A. Gere and Nicholas Turner.
British Museum, 256 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 7141 0794 8
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... When I used to give a survey course for first-year students, I dreaded December. That was when I reached the High Renaissance and my audience fell away. It was not only the alternative seasonable employment that left the slopes of the theatre to echo vacantly my conventional claims for the ideal. Although I did not disbelieve the convention, it was hard to feel sure that the perfections of Leonardo and Michelangelo – the ideally empirical theory of knowledge and the ideal of human physique in the likeness of God – did not outclass the merely intelligent perfection of pictorial form, which was the apparent distinction of Raphael ...

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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... example of his father, Sir Joseph Joel Duveen, who commissioned W.H. Romaine-Walker to create the Turner Wing (the first Turner Wing, opened in 1910), Joseph Duveen had already paid for the new modern foreign galleries and the Sargent Gallery, which were inaugurated in 1927 (also partly the work of Romaine-Walker). Spalding ...

Not bothered

E.S. Turner, 29 August 1991

The Bachelor Duke: William Spencer Cavendish, Sixth Duke of Devonshire, 1790-1858 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 234 pp., £19.95, March 1991, 0 7195 4920 5
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... memoirs. At Chatsworth as a young man he had a brief ‘romantic friendship’ with the Grand Duke Nicholas, later Emperor of All the Russias, with whom he larked about, sang songs and engaged in what Lees-Milne calls ‘delicious uninhibited intimacies’. The Duke was over-impressionable and liked to think he had enjoyed a romantic friendship with Princess ...

On Richard Hollis

Christopher Turner: Richard Hollis, 24 May 2018

... he hurled his copy down the corridor in disgust. Wilson’s book also charts the meteoric rise of Nicholas Serota, who had first worked at the Whitechapel in 1971 when, as an exhibitions officer at the Arts Council, he helped install a retrospective of Kenneth and Mary Martin. In 1976, after a stint as director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (where he ...

Seeing through Fuller

Nicholas Penny, 30 March 1989

Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... and are especially active, like the Surrealists, on the beaches. Tony Cragg, recently awarded the Turner Prize, made his name with relief murals composed of ‘beach-worn ship-refuse, plastic bottles, lids, frisbees, old toys, plastic milk crates’. For Waldemar Januszczak these were didactic – ‘one of the things they were about was the indisposability ...

Warhol’s Respectability

Nicholas Penny, 19 March 1987

The Revenge of the Philistines 
by Hilton Kramer.
Secker, 445 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 436 23687 7
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Gilbert and George 
by Carter Ratcliff.
Thames and Hudson, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 500 27443 6
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British Art in the 20th Century 
edited by Susan Compton.
Prestel-Verlag (Munich), 460 pp., £16.90, January 1987, 3 7913 0798 3
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... They have been exhibited round the world to great acclaim. They have recently been awarded the Turner Prize. They will also no doubt be included in the Saatchi collection. It cannot be said that there is much public controversy about them. Things were different a decade ago, as recalled in an introductory essay to the Royal Academy catalogue by Caroline ...

Topography v. Landscape

John Barrell: Paul Sandby, 13 May 2010

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain 
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... to free himself from tradition, which was topographical’, whereas an artist like Tom Girtin or Turner had ‘got free, and was turning his wings in the open, which was landscape’. For all this, the reviewer continued, Sandby ‘contributed much to the reputation of English landscape, and paved the way for more illustrious successors’. For Martin ...

At Annely Juda

Iain Sinclair: Leon Kossoff, London Landscapes, 6 June 2013

... Circus’ (c.2008). It has been said, in relation to his swirling child’s-eye visions of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s intimidating Christ Church in Spitalfields, that Kossoff assimilates hostility, confronting the alien stack of this Anglican invader in order to make stone spring upwards into the light. Kossoff speaks of the burden of accumulated ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: David Wilkie, 31 October 2002

... back from a journey to the East, where he was looking for authentic detail for Biblical subjects. Turner, ever the competitor, had at one point been spurred by the younger man’s success into trying to outdo him in the domestic/rustic genre: now he did a painting of Wilkie’s burial at sea. Bright detail and a sweet touch draw you towards the small to ...

Images of Displeasure

Nicholas Spice, 22 May 1986

If not now, when? 
by Primo Levi, translated by William Weaver.
Joseph, 331 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 7181 2668 8
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The Afternoon Sun 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 297 78822 1
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August in July 
by Carlo Gebler.
Hamish Hamilton, 188 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11787 9
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... in England. At this point in the story, the Hechters’ life undergoes a radical change. Rex Smail-Turner, one of High Hampton’s bachelor masters, accompanies young Jules home one Christmas, and quickly sets about ingratiating himself with the family. His success is complete. Henriette falls in love with him, and since he is already her husband’s ...

Lucian Freud

Nicholas Penny, 31 March 1988

... not only in the Wasteground but also in Freud’s painting of studio rags. It has its own life. Turner was a great painter of litter: the people in some of his foregrounds are a sort of litter, and so are the odd still-lifes he disposed there (it is a feature that Ruskin attributed to a child hood spent near Covent Garden). Freud has discerned this in his ...

Who framed Madame Moitessier?

Nicholas Penny, 9 April 1992

Metropolitan Jewellery 
by Sophie McConnell.
Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bulfinch, 111 pp., £17.99, November 1991, 0 8212 1877 8
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Italian Renaissance Frames 
by Timothy Newbery, George Bisacca and Laurence Kanter.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 111 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 8109 3455 8
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The Italian Renaissance Interior 1400-1600 
by Peter Thornton.
Weidenfeld, 407 pp., £65, October 1991, 0 297 83006 6
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Palaces of Art 
edited by Giles Waterfield.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, 188 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 9501564 5 0
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... experience of hanging paintings will know how the depth in a landscape – the spatial effects of Turner or Koninck – is completely altered once the horizon line is above eye level. The difference to a painting when its frame is changed or even when it is given new partners on the wall is no less extraordinary. It is inconceivable that an intelligent ...

The Rack, the Rapier, the Ruff and the Fainting Nun

Nicholas Penny: Manet/Velázquez, 10 July 2003

Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting 
by Gary Tinterow and Geneviève Lacambre et al.
Yale, 592 pp., £50, March 2003, 0 300 09880 4
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... 1880s, and his Cicely Alexander of the previous decade. It was a conjunction as unhappy as that of Turner and Claude in the National Gallery. Sargent’s force seems harsh and vulgar beside such delicacy, yet it succeeds in making the delicacy look timid and precious. We learn something from the dual fatality. Sargent’s artistic outlook was conditioned by ...

Leave me my illusions

Nicholas Penny: Antiquarianism, 29 July 2021

Time’s Witness: History in the Age of Romanticism 
by Rosemary Hill.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, June, 978 1 84614 312 0
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... move from one field to another. In her accounts of the antiquaries Arcisse de Caumont and Dawson Turner, Hill suggests that their earlier interests in the study of geology and botany, respectively, may have helped them to analyse and illustrate the medieval antiquities of Normandy. She also observes that the strong organisational intelligence and meticulous ...

Homer and Virgil and Broch

George Steiner, 12 July 1990

Oxford Readings in Vergil’s ‘Aeneid’ 
edited by S.J. Harrison.
Oxford, 488 pp., £45, April 1990, 0 19 814389 3
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... Romanticism – Shelley would be an instance – are Homeric in preference. But an artist such as Turner sees in Virgil the prophetic witness to the imperial politics and aesthetic tone of the times. Angles of incidence and of interpretation are complicated by the deepening understanding of the decisive but often oblique status of the Iliad and Odyssey ...

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