One day in August 1831, John Constable wrote to his friend C R Leslie about a painting by Watteau in Dulwich Picture Gallery, ‘which looks as it should be painted in honey – so mellow – so tender – so soft & so delicious’. When artists discuss their predecessors in this way we get a double dose of insight: not only in this case into the work of Watteau but, just as interestingly, into how Constable thought about oil paint – which, evidently, was as a sensuous, almost edible substance.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
This 'jaunty narrative raises fundamental questions about the role of popular history. Should this just be a matter of telling tales, as the general public often seems to think?'
@DrLRoach weighs up Charles Spencer's account of the White Ship Disaster.
'Amis clearly belongs to the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school of pedagogy. More or less everything he says is demonstrably contradicted by elements of his own work, be they here or elsewhere.'
'The bar is set high at the outset, and readers are primed to wonder if Mikhail can make his case.'
Does Alan Mikhail's new life of the Sultan Selim I really overturn 'shibboleths that have held sway for a millennium'? Caroline Finkel investigates.