Underneath the arches: Cruikshank’s illustration of ‘one of those afflicting occurences in the life of London: 
TOM, JERRY and LOGIC are arrested in their progress home by the melancholy discovery of Corinthian KATE 
in the last stage of a Consumption, disease & inebriety’

Hogarth and the harlots of Covent Garden were many things, but they weren't 'bohemians'

It was Hazlitt who said of Hogarth that his pictures ‘breathe a certain close, greasy, tavern air’, and the same…


The pen was mightier than the brush

Of the making of books about the Pre-Raphaelites, it appears, there is no end. Like the Bloomsberries, most of the…


An enigma wrapped in a conundrum

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


The picture of health

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


Where dreams take shape

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


A fine and private painter

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

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


A holy terror

In the summer of 1520, Michelangelo Buonarotti wrote a letter of recommendation on behalf of his protégé, the painter Sebastiano…


Oh brother!

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

Don’t mention the war

It wasn’t easy being the daughter of the artist Avigdor Arikha. In this memoir, Alba Arikha mixes teenage fury with…


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

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

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


A Cumberland legend

The legend of the glamorous artist Sheila Fell (1931–79), with her striking looks — black hair, white skin, large eyes — who died young, has tended to obscure the real achievement of her art.


Forget the matchstick men

Here at last is a book that takes L. S. Lowry’s art seriously and treats it with the scholarly attention it deserves.


On the charm offensive

Derek Hill (1916–2000), writes Bruce Arnold, was an English representational landscape and portrait painter of ‘haunting and evocative creative spirituality that is perhaps indefinable’.


Taking a firm line

This book collects nearly 300 examples of Alasdair Gray’s work as a painter and illustrator.


Doing what it says on the tin

If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface: of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.

A flammable individual

On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into the Oratory of San Lorenzo, Palermo, and removed Caravaggio’s Nativity.


More than a painter of Queens

The last words of Hungarian-born portraitist Philip de László, spoken to his nurse, were apparently, ‘It is a pity, because there is so much still to do.’ As Duff Hart-Davis’s biography amply demonstrates, for de László, art — which he regarded as ‘work’ as much as an aesthetic vocation — was both the purpose and the substance of his life.


Small but perfectly formed

Some years ago, Edmund de Waal inherited a remarkable collection of 264 netsuke from his great-uncle Iggie, whom he had got to know 20 years previously while studying pottery and Japanese in Tokyo.


Odd men out

The first game played by the Allahakbarries Cricket Club at Albury in Surrey in September 1887 did not bode well for the club’s future.


On the brink

Stephen Potter’s Lifemanship contains a celebrated tip for writers who want to ensure good reviews.


Painting the town together

This book recounts a terrible story of self-destruction by two painters who, in their heyday, achieved considerable renown in Britain and abroad.


Red faces in the galleries

Art fraudsters, especially forgers, have a popular appeal akin to Robin Hood.


A certain look

Just as there are people who are their own worst enemies, so there are books that are their own worst reviews.