Julian Bell is a painter and writer. His latest book is the painting sequence Genesis. He lives in Lewes, Sussex.
 (November 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Turner: High Ambition for Deep Truth

J.M.W. Turner: The Fighting Temeraire, 1839

Turner: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner

by Franny Moyle

J.M.W. Turner: A Life in Art, Vol. 1: Young Mr Turner: The First Forty Years, 1775–1815

by Eric Shanes
Here are two books of great value on the painter whose likeness has been chosen, after a recent public consultation, to appear on the Bank of England’s £20 notes. Nominations for J.M.W. Turner as a national figurehead for the visual arts were no doubt boosted by the success of Mike …

The Dream of White Gold

Edmund de Waal in his studio, London, July 2013

The White Road: Journey into an Obsession

by Edmund de Waal
The White Road is a large and singular literary object, a book with no obvious prototype. Edmund de Waal has put forward its 401 pages on the strength of two credentials. The runaway success of The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), an account of his Jewish ancestors in nineteenth-century Paris …

England’s Great Neglected Artist

A ‘tail-piece’ by Thomas Bewick, from his History of British Birds, 1797

The Art of Thomas Bewick

by Diana Donald, with contributions by Paul F. Donald
“Thomas Bewick is an inventor, and the first wood-cutter in the world!” John James Audubon, the great recorder of America’s birds, saluted his equivalent in Britain in these terms in his journal at the end of a visit to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1827. In other words, Bewick was not …

‘There, This Is Life’

Rendez-vous with Art

by Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford
“I don’t believe art has redemptive qualities.” The demur comes from Philippe de Montebello, who, having served as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an unparalleled thirty-one years before his retirement in 2008, must by any reckoning be one of the most eminent figures in the art world.

Taking a Wrench to Reality

Georges Braque: Trees at L’Estaque, summer 1908

Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015
In his artistic researches, Cézanne had been intent to paw at the boundary between his personal visual sensations and the “Nature” (or “the real world,” as we might now say) that he could walk through and handle and inhabit. I can go beyond that, Braque seems to claim. I can take a wrench to reality. Look, my brush lays hold on the angled planes of the object world, its facets; look, it locates the edges on which Nature must turn; see me unfasten the presented scene, open it up, seize it by a firm and encompassing grip.

The Mystery of the Great Piero

Piero della Francesca: Saint Jerome and a Supplicant, circa 1460–1464

Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man

by James R. Banker

Piero’s Light: In Search of Piero della Francesca: A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion

by Larry Witham
Scholarly spats are the salt of art history, lending it savor. The pettier, one may feel, the more piquant. Readers of these pages will have enjoyed the recent review by Sanford Schwartz of a little exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, “Piero della Francesca: Personal Encounters.” The show brought together five …

The Great & Singular Vallotton

Félix Vallotton: Self-Portrait at the Age of Twenty, 1885

Félix Vallotton: Le Feu sous la glace [Félix Vallotton: The Fire Under the Ice]

an exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, October 2, 2013–January 20, 2014; the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, February 14–June 1, 2014; and the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo, June 14–September 23, 2014
Félix Vallotton is best known for the pungent wit of the woodcuts he executed in Paris in the 1890s—images that often appear in these pages. Later, he gained a certain notoriety for the tart and confrontational canvases he exhibited in that city’s annual Salons. Born in Lausanne, he died in …

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