I have always (unfashionably) had a bit of a soft spot for art of the Victorian era, generally dismissed as kitsch, garish, old-fashioned, etc., etc., etc.; I know all of this, but simply can’t help myself. Needless to say, a couple of new books that recently arrived piqued my interest……
This book explores the years when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert together embraced the concept of artistic patronage with quite astonishing enthusiasm. The range of artists they supported, architectural projects they mentored and cultural pursuits they dabbled in themselves was quite extraordinary, no wonder that her name has gone on to define an entire period. And who doesn’t love the Albert Memorial?
Yes, this is indeed the book of a BBC television series, and it makes very entertaining and informative reading. Paxman clearly loves the era and sees it as incredibly vibrant and creative, and he uses the arts to demonstrate how rich the times were both artistically and industrially.
Frescoes of the Veneto : Venetian palaces and villas by Filippo Pedrocco, Massimo Favilla, Ruggero Rugolo ; photography by Luca Sassi
This is as much a photography book as a book about Italian frescoes, thanks to Luca Sassi’s beautiful images. It charts the development of fresco painting over three centuries, exploring not just the works but the people who commissioned them and the remarkable houses and palaces they adorn. If it didn’t weigh two and a half tons it would make a great companion on a grand tour!
At the other end of the spectrum, this lovely book celebrates the very particular art of American book covers during a period when the look, and indeed feel, of a book was almost as important as what went on inside. Lovely.