Thomas Hodgkinson

But What Did They Eat?

The Immortal Dinner


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The nineteenth-century painter Benjamin Robert Haydon was convinced that his best works rivalled the masterpieces of the Renaissance – a judgement facilitated by his near-blindness. Standing in front of one of them, his noble, ugly face masked by several pairs of spectacles, he exclaimed: ‘What fire, what magic! I bow and am grateful.’ Wordsworth, who also suffered from poor eyesight, called Haydon ‘the first painter in his grand style of art that England or any other country has produced since the days of Titian’. Few have heard of him now.

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