John Barrell

John Barrell is an emeritus professor of English at Queen Mary, University of London and an honorary fellow of King’s College, Cambridge and of the British Academy. His books include The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting, 1730-1840 and The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt: The Body of the Public. He edited The Penguin Book of Pastoral Verse and The Complete Writings of William Fox.

The Stream in the Sky: Thomas Telford

John Barrell, 22 March 2018

For the last​ eight or nine years I have been collecting – casually enough, and without the greedy fanaticism that has characterised my other short-term collecting crazes – the great Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford. To be more precise, when out driving, I have been going out of my way to visit engineering projects he was involved in designing or building. I came across...

‘The Meeting of the Waters’

John Barrell, 27 July 2017

In​ the course of a year beginning in late 2013, I found myself at five separate places called the Meeting of the Waters. The first was the confluence of the Greta and the Tees on the Rokeby estate in Teesdale, thought to have been named by Walter Scott after the song of that title by the Irish Romantic poet Thomas Moore. This was then the only place I knew of so named. Next came a...

A Smile at My Own Temerity: William Hogarth

John Barrell, 16 February 2017

The word​ ‘Hogarthian’ first appeared in print in 1744, in a translation of La Fontaine’s The Loves of Cupid and Psyche. By this time Hogarth had become well known, in particular, for the engraved versions of his graphic novels: the ‘progresses’, illustrating the lives of Tom Rakewell and Moll Hackabout, and Marriage à la Mode, the story of the disastrous...

Beyond the Cringe: British Art

John Barrell, 2 June 2016

David Solkin​’s new book is designed to replace Painting in Britain 1530-1790, a volume of the Pelican history of art by Ellis Waterhouse, which was first published in 1953 and appeared in five separate editions, the last in 1994, nine years after Waterhouse’s death. Waterhouse’s history was quickly recognised as a classic. To a large extent he made the subject he was...

At Tate Britain: Late Turner

John Barrell, 18 December 2014

After​ three or four hours in the Linbury Galleries at Tate Britain, examining, admiring, taking notes on the Late Turner exhibition (until 25 January), I wandered into the café to take the weight off my feet and to read the reviews I had downloaded from the exhibition website on my tablet. I had been careful not to read them until after my visit, but now I wanted to see if I could...

In the 1790s revolutionaries on both sides of the Channel abandoned wigs and powder for hair worn au naturel. The English jacobin John Thelwall, tried for treason in 1794, cut his short in the...

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Great Palladium: treason

James Epstein, 7 September 2000

According to the English statute of treasons drawn up in 1351, it was an offence to ‘compass or imagine the death of our lord the king’. The meaning of these strange words was already...

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Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

No one ever failed more completely to be the hero of his own life than the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon, for whom heroism was an obsession. He used his own head as a model for Christ, Solomon,...

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Elizabeth’s Chamber

Frank Kermode, 9 May 1991

De Quincey, who declared in his Suspiria that remembered dreams were ‘dark reflections from eternities below all life’, would not have been surprised that modern critical analysts try...

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Chris Baldick, 10 November 1988

Academic publishers in Britain are relying increasingly upon the series of monographs, a form which permits the development of brand loyalty and which allows a few excellent literary...

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A Republic of Taste

Thomas Crow, 19 March 1987

We inhabit at present a culture that assigns absolute priority to the simple existence of an art object over anything we might find to think or say about it. The latest overnight phenomenon in...

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Literature and the Left

Marilyn Butler, 18 August 1983

It is a surprise to find Raymond Williams, in the year of his retirement as Professor of Drama at Cambridge, editing a series called ‘Literature in History’. In a writing career that...

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Solitary Reapers

Christopher Salvesen, 5 June 1980

How salutary to feel guilty about enjoying paintings of the English landscape and peasantry. One aim of Dr Barrell’s book is to animate out suspicions about the difference between the...

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