Samuel Palmer’s ‘The Harvest Moon’: ‘the bowed forms of peasants are shadows of divinity’

Samuel Palmer: from long-haired mystic to High Church Tory

21 November 2015 9:00 am

In his youth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) painted like a Romantic poet. The moonlit field of ‘The Harvest Moon’ (1831–32) glows…

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Francis Bacon in Paris in 1984

Bacon on the side: the great painter’s drinking partner tells all

5 September 2015 9:00 am

When Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in 1963 to interview him for a student magazine, the artist was already well-established,…


A remote island community is disrupted by the arrival of a troubled teenager

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Benjamin Wood’s first novel, The Bellwether Revivals, was published in 2012, picked up good reviews, was shortlisted for the Costa…

Catherine Lampert, 1986

Frank Auerbach: frightened of heights, dogs, driving, swimming — but finding courage through painting

6 June 2015 9:00 am

With a career of more than 60 years so far, Frank Auerbach is undoubtedly one of the big beasts of…

‘Ash tree in Winter, 2010–13

Patrick George: painting in all weathers in his nineties

17 January 2015 9:00 am

‘If I see something I like I wish to tell someone else; this… is why I paint.’ Patrick George is…

Jacques-Louis David, emboldened by Madame Vigée Le Brun, included a smiling display of teeth in his portrait of Madame de Sériziat (1795)

How the smile came to Paris (briefly)

13 December 2014 9:00 am

In 1787 critics of the Paris Salon were scandalised by a painting exhibited by Mme Vigée Le Brun. The subject…

Martha Graham and Bertram Ross in Graham’s most famous work ‘Appalachian Spring’ (1944), with a prize-winning score by Aaron Copeland

To call this offering a book is an abuse of language

8 November 2014 9:00 am

I picked up this book with real enthusiasm. Who cannot be entranced by those 20 years after the second world…

‘He thought he could have made it as a visual artist — if only more people had liked his work.’ Above: John Arlott reading (1977) and Kathy and Jessy (1963)

The gentle intoxications of Laurie Lee

28 June 2014 9:00 am

On Laurie Lee’s centenary, Jeremy Treglown wonders how the writer’s legacy stands up


This beautiful new history of Kew Gardens needs a bit of weeding

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Edward Bawden’s Kew Gardens is a beautiful book. Lovers of early 20th-century British art will find it hard to stop…

American novelist Siri Hustvedt Photo: Getty

Caught between a New Age rock and a theory junkie hard place

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Siri Hustvedt’s new novel isn’t exactly an easy read — but the casual bookshop browser should be reassured that it’s…

Saving Italy, by Robert M. Edsel - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

During the civil war, the Puritan iconoclast William Dowsing recorded with satisfaction his destructive visit in 1644 to the parish…


An enigma wrapped in a conundrum

26 May 2012 4:00 pm

What to make of Banksy? Artist or vandal? Tate Modern holds no Banksys and, other than a redundant phone box…


The picture of health

14 April 2012 10:15 am

It must have been hard to settle on a title for this book; but then this is not the book…


Bookends: Disarming but disingenuous

14 April 2012 9:00 am

At first glance, Be the Worst You Can Be (Booth-Clibborn Editions, £9.99) by Charles Saatchi (pictured above with his wife,…


Where dreams take shape

7 April 2012 10:00 am

The question of what artists actually get up to in their studios has always intrigued the rest of us —…


A fine and private painter

31 March 2012 11:00 am

Prunella Clough was a modest and self-effacing artist who nevertheless produced some of the most consistently original and innovative British…


Portraits of an age

3 March 2012 10:00 am

By a fine coincidence, two legendary icons of British art were being feted in London on the same evening last…


Currents of imagery

17 December 2011 9:00 pm

In the first book of his scientific-cum-philosophical poem ‘De rerum Natura’ — or ‘On the Nature of Things’ — Lucretius…


Oh brother!

17 December 2011 8:00 pm

Long in the writing, deep in research, heavy to hold, this is the latest of umpteen biographies of Vincent van…

Settling old scores

10 December 2011 10:00 am

As a boy, Brian Sewell was unimpressed by opera but enraptured by pantomime which, he reveals in Outsider, sowed in…


Lust for life

3 December 2011 10:00 am

Seduced by the hayseed hair and the Yorkshire accent it’s tempting to see the young David Hockney as the Freddie…


Art Books: A sumptuous tour

19 November 2011 10:00 am

In 1930 Evelyn Waugh, already at 27 a famous novelist, spent two days in Barcelona. He came upon one of…


William Nicholson: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings by Patricia Reed

5 November 2011 10:00 am

A pleasingly tactile canvas-like cover adorns this heavy book and proclaims its purpose; the boldly brushed illustration is a detail…


A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford

29 October 2011 10:00 am

Like his contemporary and fellow Yorkshireman, Alan Bennett, whom he slightly resembles physically, David Hockney has been loved and admired…