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Gestures of Embrace

Nicholas Penny, 27 October 1988

Rembrandt’s Enterprise: The Studio and the Market 
by Svetlana Alpers.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 226 01514 9
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The Light of Early Italian Painting 
by Paul Hills.
Yale, 160 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 300 03617 5
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Italian Paintings in the Robert Lehman Collection 
by John Pope-Hennessy.
Metropolitan Museum and Princeton, 331 pp., £50, December 1987, 0 87099 479 4
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... paintings of the mid-13th to the mid-15th century, which is the subject of a remarkable book by Paul Hills. The Light of Early Italian Paintings opens with a reminder that ‘the preoccupation with representing light that is characteristic of the Western tradition from the Renaissance to the Impressionists is a peculiarity.’ And whilst ...

In Fife

Kathleen Jamie, 23 April 2015

... I live lies a loch called Lochmill. Half a mile long, it occupies a natural bowl in the Ochil hills, and is orientated almost exactly east-west. On its north and south banks grow sparse hawthorns tufted with lichen and old stunted oaks. At its western end, where the springs that feed the loch rise, Scots pines and larches dominate. On winter afternoons ...

Now for the Hills

Stephanie Burt: Les Murray, 16 March 2000

Collected Poems 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 476 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 1 85754 369 6
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Fredy Neptune 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 256 pp., £19.95, May 1999, 1 85754 433 1
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Conscious and Verbal 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 89 pp., £6.95, October 1999, 1 85754 453 6
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... were no leaders but they were first into the dark on Dog Fox Field: Anna who rocked her head, and Paul who grew big and yet giggled small, Irma who looked Chinese, and Hans who knew his world as a fox knows a field. Insisting that the dignity of persons is not based on intellect or achievement, Murray can be astonishingly good at expressing bodily feelings ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: L is Lorentzen, 23 January 2014

... Earth: two little clusters of about a dozen structures known as Katund-Stratobërdhë in the hills south-west of Korçë, about 15 miles from the Greek border. ‘That’s it,’ an Albanian told me. ‘The name doesn’t mean something special. It’s just a village name.’ Before my birth it was agreed that I would be called Christina or Otis, but ...


Esther Chadwick: Edgar Degas, 30 June 2016

... of other tutus in the first impression are subsumed into the foliate green of the backcloth. Paul Valéry wrote in 1935 that Degas’s ‘passion was to reconstruct the body of the female animal as the specialised slave of the dance, the laundry … or the streets’; the woman as ‘specialised slave’ of her repeated movements. For the dancer trained ...

Lutfi’s bar will not be opening again

Basil Davidson, 7 January 1993

Fitzroy Maclean 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 413 pp., £25, October 1992, 9780719549717
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Franz Joseph 
by Jean-Paul Bled, translated by Teresa Bridgeman.
Blackwell, 359 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 631 16778 1
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... North beyond Sarajevo is where the hills of Bosnia become less grey and gaunt than they are elsewhere, and a little further north again they slope away to the plain of Semberija along the Sava River. It is a pleasant enough country in normal times although a hungry one, with its peasants inhabiting scattered hamlets and family homesteads ...

At the Palace Museum

John-Paul Stonard: Chinese Painting, 15 June 2017

... and later installed in the National Palace Museum, built specially for it in the subtropical hills of northern Taipei. Detail from Wen Zhengming’s ‘Zhong Kui in a Wintry Grove’ (1534) Before visiting the museum I spent some time looking through books of Chinese painting, making a list of works to see. One expert I spoke to warned me not to get ...


Chauncey Loomis, 10 March 1994

Young Men and Fire 
by Norman Maclean.
Chicago, 301 pp., £8.75, October 1993, 0 226 50062 4
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... winds coming down off the highlands. The forms of earth are clear to see because the flanks of the hills and mountains are not so overgrown that their shapes and textures are concealed; their underlying geology shows in their contours and outcroppings of rock. In less open country, with less broad valleys and less immense skies, such rugged earth would be ...

Nothing beside remains

Josephine Quinn: The Razing of Palmyra, 25 January 2018

Palmyra: An Irreplaceable Treasure 
by Paul Veyne, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 88 pp., £17, April 2017, 978 0 226 42782 9
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... its rose-tinged limestone buildings rising from the grey sand in a shallow basin framed by low hills. It would have been an alien place to a visitor from Greece or Rome, full of strange temples to strange divinities such as the Mesopotamian god Bel, whose enormous sanctuary stood on the south-eastern edge of the city. A building resembling a rectangular ...


Paul Theroux: My Gaggle, 20 June 2019

... a remote part of a Hawaiian island, on a steep bluff among my own clumping bamboo, surrounded by hills covered in dense forests of casuarina trees. The beach is half a mile down the hill, and if the day is sunny, which it usually is, after lunch I set up my folding chair under the palms and continue to write. When I’m done, I go for a swim. I feel lucky to ...

Gentlemen Travellers

Denis Donoghue, 18 December 1986

Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... I am assuming,’ Paul Fussell said in Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars (1980), ‘that travel is now impossible and that tourism is all we have left.’ To be a traveller, you have to move about alone, eschew standard procedures, avoid the commonplace of maps, and hold yourself ready for adventure ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... of the ritual, had he known about it, can only be a matter for speculation, but as recounted by Paul Ferris in Sir Huge the episode quaintly anticipates the row which has broken out over the publication of this biography, and brought such champions of Wheldon’s reputation as Sir Denis Forman, Ludovic Kennedy and Melvyn Bragg trumpeting into the field. In ...

Into the Dark

Kathleen Jamie: A Winter Solstice, 18 December 2003

... a girl with a hand-knit tourie. Throughout the boat, muzak was playing. Old Christmas hits. Paul McCartney. The only place you could avoid it was a lounge with subdued lighting and big reclining chairs. There were prints on the walls, a set of three, showing a cartoon sea with a stripy lighthouse, a fishing-boat, and below the blue waves, three ...

Resistance Days

Derek Mahon, 25 April 2002

... Nous nous aimerons tous et nos enfants riront De la légende noire où pleure un solitaire. Paul Eluard The sort of snailmail that can take a week but suits my method, pre-informatique, I write this from the St Louis, rm 14 – or type it, rather, on the old machine, a portable, that I take when I migrate in ‘the run-up to Christmas’. Here I sit ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: The lie of the land, 20 September 2001

... floor to some feet above your head. Although the hill shading was done by the watercolour painter Paul Sandby, it is not exactly a work of art: one of the few exhibits which qualifies for that description is the map of the siege of La Rochelle engraved by Jacques Callot in 1631 and thickly peopled with the kind of tiny soldier-figures which make the scenes of ...

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