In this richly illustrated volume, Mark Evans redefines the role of painting within the wider story of art and design.
The history of painting is often reduced to the story of a tiny elite of easel pictures, either old masters of superlative quality or avant-garde works of fundamental originality. Many British paintings, watercolours, miniatures, icons and non-European works, as well as modern pictures which are no longer perceived as 'cutting edge', are barely admissible to this twin canon of old and modern masters. A broad range of paintings, from stained glass to painted ceramics, furniture, textiles and items of costume are implicitly excluded as belonging to the realm of applied art. Copies of any type are routinely discounted, unless transfigured by the authority of a master of higher status than their original. The V+A abounds in such works which Mark Evans considers at length.
Avoiding anachronistic stylistic terms, such as 'Gothic', 'Renaissance' and 'Baroque', which would have been meaningless at the time, he utilises contemporary opinion to express what has been termed 'the period eye' and also illustrates his survey with a plethora of beautiful painted works including:
- a little-known miniature on the Frontispiece, Self Portrait Before an Easel by Joseph Werner;
- an exceptionally fine Netherlandish cabinet with scenes of the Prodigal Son, c.1630-50
- the Altarpiece of St George c.1410 by Marzal de Sas, the only intact example of its kind outside Spain
- a beautiful watercolour inspired by the miniaturist Maria Subleyras painted on a fan
- a Chinese porcelain vase from the Qing dynasty
- John Frederick Lewis' Life in the Harem, Cairo, 1858, meticulously depicting contemporary Arabic life
- a detail from Honore Daumier' s The Print Collectors - a favourite of the author
- Wyndham Lewis's At the seaside, 1913; the cubist figures reminiscent of African carvings
- Vik Muniz's depiction of Jackson Pollock originally realised in chocolate syrup
- and the dramatic front stage curtain for the ballet Le Train Bleu, 1924 designed by Picasso.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 04 / 2010
- 218 x 270mm