45This achieves a good balance of history and analysis of the visual aspect of art and despite the fact that each section of the book focuses on a different theme of portraiture with individual chapters then tackling specific artists ranging from medieval to contemporary times Schama manages to effectively morph these disparate artists into a cohesive portrait of Britain Read the bits about artists I like but incredible writing Delightfully eclectic romp through "British portraiture bouncing back and forth through the centuries engaging artists photographers etc and their subjects part history part art "portraiture bouncing back and forth through the centuries engaging artists photographers etc and their subjects part history part art part social commentary well illustrated as one would expect A book which accompanies a television series and a gallery exhibition and which uses paintings in the National Portrait Gallery and the stories behind them to tell the history of British painting often in the context of wider British social historyAlthough there are lots of the paintings reproduced many referred to in the text are not and the book is very unstructured both between and within sections and chapters Kind of an armchair travel book for history and art buffs The Face
*of britain augments *Britain augments background of the portraits from London s National Portrait Gallery in the way that only Simon Schama can uirkily detailed and deeply interesting You can read this the way you might walk through a gallery browse until you find a portrait that captivates then stop to read the background Destined to be a book to sit by my armchair for uite awhile Prolific author Simon Schama is at heart a storyteller In this his latest book he uses selected portraits from the National Portrait Gallery in London to tell stories both about the men and women portrayed some well known others not and the artists themselves again some famous and some entirely new to me Altogether it makes for entertaining reading and a different angle on British history and society One of my favorites the rainbow portrait of ueen Elizabeth wearing a gown with embroidered eyes and ears symbolizing the all knowing nature of the monarch A bit bizarre to our modern sensibilities A portrait opens a window into a person's life who they were and wanted to be who the artist saw and how everyone else looked onFrom the divine paintings of Elizabeth I to the. ,
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Represent the issues at stake in the time of its creation Thirdly there always is an anecdote about the painter the sitter or the portrait itself Churchill looks fierce #not because he is determined to beat I love books about art and I love books # because he is determined to beat I love books about art and I love books history and I love books about art history so I figured I could hardly go wrong with a book with this title And indeed it is charming although probably better taken in small chunks I had to gallop through it since I was reading a library copy and it s a LOT to digest at one goI would "SAY THE SUBTITLE IS SOMEWHAT MISLEADING IT S NOT "the subtitle is somewhat misleading It s not history it s a collection of short histories on various subjects illustrated by a selection of reproductions from the British National Portrait Gallery The illustrations are wonderful and there are many of them the book as a whole is expensively and lavishly produced on heavy coated paper which makes looking at the images a oy while also making the book very heavy to hold but so many paintings are referenced in the text that I continually found myself frustrated at not being able to see portraits so lovingly described That feels ungrateful but it s true nonethelessI am a long time fan of Simon Schama s television hosting as well as his writing and this book is far like the former than the latter I haven t seen the television series it companions yet I believe and hope it will be shown on PBS eventually but I wouldn t be the tiniest bit surprised if this was a fleshed out version of the show transcript because Schama s speaking voice comes through loud and clear on every page I could almost see and hear him as I read That is a strength of the book but it is also a bit of a weakness because it makes the book feel very episodic especially at first when I was expecting of a connected narrative than the book delivers Still I recommend it especially to people interested in art history Beautiful diverse stories on history and art Some are real who do you think you are stories The last part The faces of the people was my favourite but I enjoyed them all Not made for a uick read but for keeping at hand and re reading favourite parts. N Schama uses a stunning and surprising array of images to tell the story of the British from the Tudors to the present day He will change the way we see Britain and each othe. Ut in light of recent events maybe due for a comeback There s something powerful and elemental about portraiture about meeting another person s gaze across time and space Similarly the process itself the complex dance between the subject the artist their actual appearance what they desire to appear the chance that the image captures something their essence is also fascinating and powerful And when portraiture becomes systematized as it does in the National
Portrait Gallery that adds all the complications of public notabilityThere s a greatGallery that adds all the complications of public notabilityThere s a great of potential in this work It s a fascinating topic and Schama has the art historical background to pull it off But only a few sections really gel as a cohesive whole the first chapter on power the last chapter on ordinary Britons some of the asides on caricature and miniature paintings which were carried as a constant reminder of a beloved one Basically for an American what this book needed was structure and context on about 200 years of British history from 1750 to 1950 I consider myself reasonably well read and an amateur historian but I only know enough to sketch an outline of this period and Schama is so caught up in breathy gossip that I lost track of what he was gossiping about What could be insightful tends towards a ramble through the British GalleryThis book probably also suffered because of my tendency to marathon through whatever I m reading At a chapter a day the tone might grate less Still lots of beautiful plates and fun words even if the choice of images in a chapter can be somewhat frustrating Simon Schama can do three things with a portrait first he can explain what its pictorial ualities are and position it in the tradition of portrait painting and art history in general What is new in the style or innovative in the techniue How is it an expression of the art schools of its time Secondly he can tell us about the historical function of the portrait and the historical context in which it was created Portraits had a different function in the Elizabethan age than in Victoria s time What role did this portrait play in history or how does it. Iconic photograph of 'bulldog' Churchill; from Victorian portraits of dead children to Hockney's of his elderly parents; from anonymous workers to the artists themselves Simo.