Julian Bell is a painter based in Lewes, England. A new ­rewritten edition of his book What Is Painting? will be published in October. (July 2017)

IN THE REVIEW

The Perennial Student

Camille Pissarro: Hoar Frost (Gelée blanche à Ennery), 1873

Camille Pissarro: Le premier des impressionnistes

an exhibition at the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, February 23–July 16, 2017

Pissarro à Éragny: La nature retrouvée

an exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, March 16–July 9, 2017
What is a shadow? Nothing in itself, you might say: a mere local lack of light, in a space that is otherwise lit up. Light, which allows us to see and know the world, is the normal precondition for picturing things. Cast shadows may help us interpret a picture by …

The Flash of the Blade

Théodore Géricault: The Raft of the Medusa, 1818–1819

Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art

by Julian Barnes
I enjoyed an essay about Lucian Freud that Julian Barnes published in 2013—a piece brought together with sixteen others on art and artists in his collection Keeping an Eye Open. I confess that one reason I kept muttering “Well judged!” as I read it was that its comments about Freud’s …

Looking for ‘Life Itself’

Georges Seurat: Bathers at Asnières, 1884

Exhibitionist: Writing About Art in a Daily Newspaper

by Richard Dorment
Richard Dorment studied art history at Princeton in the 1960s, becoming a specialist in late-nineteenth-century British art. Curatorial work in this field later took him to London. In 1986 he was hired as art critic for that city’s Daily Telegraph, a post from which he retired in 2015. He has …

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.

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