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You’ve got to get used to it

John Bayley: David Piper, 15 October 1998

I am well, who are you? 
by David Piper, edited by Anne Piper.
Anne Piper, 96 pp., £12, March 1998, 0 9532123 0 0
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... be made use of in ways that are contextually effective, and surprisingly original. That is what David Piper contrived to do in a brilliant one-off war novel, Trial by Battle. It describes the experiences of a young officer, the reverse of professional, during the 1941 Malayan campaign between the British-Indian Army and the Japanese: the campaign which ...


Valerie Pearl, 4 February 1982

The Shell Guide to the History of London 
by W.R. Dalzell.
Joseph, 496 pp., £12.50, July 1981, 0 7181 2015 9
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... perceptively as Steen Eiler Rasmussen, who saw it in 1937 as The Unique City. More recently, both David Piper in his Companion Guide (1964) and Christopher Hibbert in Biography of a City (1969) have written with elegance and comprehension, the first closer to the form of the traditional guidebook, the second to the style of the popular historian. Yet ...

Looking for a Way Up

Rosemary Hill: Roy Strong’s Vanities, 25 April 2013

Self-Portrait as a Young Man 
by Roy Strong.
Bodleian, 286 pp., £25, March 2013, 978 1 85124 282 5
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... That was in 1963, his ‘annus mirabilis’, and the next year saw another breakthrough when David Piper became director of the Portrait Gallery and allowed Strong free rein. He now had ‘a super job’, as he confided to a friend: ‘new publications … theatre designers let loose in the rooms … super sound guide’. Sound guides were then a ...

Martinis with the Bellinis

Mary Beard, 31 July 1997

The Roy Strong Diaries 1967-87 
Weidenfeld, 461 pp., £20, May 1997, 0 297 81841 4Show More
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... that the revolution at the Portrait Gallery had already begun under Strong’s predecessor, David Piper (who went on to become director of the Fitzwilliam and later the Ashmolean Museums). Piper had, after all, sponsored Strong’s first ‘theatrical’ exhibition, ‘The Winter Queen’, while he was still a ...


Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... life are tellingly invoked. Then there is an amazingly learned search for the sources of David’s Oath of the Horatii. The trail leads through Gluck, Garrick, the ballet-master Noverre, Lavoisier, Beaumarchais and (less of a displaced person now, than when Wind was writing in 1941) Salieri. It is nard to imagine a reader with any developed interest ...

New Faces on the Block

Jenny Diski, 27 November 1997

Venus Envy 
by Elizabeth Haiken.
Johns Hopkins, 288 pp., £20.50, January 1998, 0 8018 5763 5
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The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty From Ancient Egypt 
by Dorothea Arnold.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 192 pp., $45, February 1997, 0 8109 6504 6
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... even married her Antony a good few times. The early stages of European portraiture began, the late David Piper suggested in his 1992 study, The English Face, with tomb-effigies in the 12th century. Neither beauty nor individuality were the point of these monuments in death to rank, wealth and piety. None of these portraits in stone looks like anyone I ...

Just a Way of Having Fun

Eleanor Birne: John Piper, 30 March 2017

The Art of John Piper 
by David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright.
Unicorn, 472 pp., £45, June 2016, 978 1 910787 05 2
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... At the start​ of the war, John Piper – who had made his name as an avatar of high abstraction in the mode of Braque and Mondrian, his paintings hanging among the Giacomettis and Calders in the seminal 1936 show Abstract and Concrete – was struggling to get by. His pictures weren’t really selling, and he was living on the £3 10s a week he still got from his mother ...

Each of us is a snowball

Susannah Clapp: Squares are best, 22 October 2020

Square Haunting 
by Francesca Wade.
Faber, 422 pp., £20, January, 978 0 571 33065 2
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... satin and Egyptian beads, and was painted by Augustus John in silks that don’t look too dusty. David Piper called it ‘the only existing humane portrait of a Lady Don’ and Harrison was pleased, thinking she looked ‘like a distinguished prize-fighter who has had a vision and collapsed under it’. Wade’s account of her life is in tune with the ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 6 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... among them a monumental biography of her colleague and confidante Martha Graham. Dance to the Piper was her first in 1951 and told the story, as she put it, ‘of an American dancer, a spoiled egocentric wealthy girl, who learned with difficulty to become a worker, to set and meet standards, to brace a Victorian sensibility to contemporary ...

The Masks of Doom

Niela Orr, 21 January 2021

... to fillet felines these days.’ Some of us followed Doom because we thought we were too cool for David Blaine. Doom’s tricks were breath control, intricate rhyme schemes, a beating heart beneath the cold veneer, of which he gave us only occasional glimpses. Now you see it, now you don’t.In his six solo studio albums, numerous collaborations and ...

Knobs, Dots and Grooves

Peter Campbell: Henry Moore, 8 August 2002

Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations 
edited by Alan Wilkinson.
Lund Humphries, 320 pp., £35, February 2002, 0 85331 847 6
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The Penguin Modern Painters: A History 
by Carol Peaker.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 124 pp., £15, August 2001, 0 9527401 4 1
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... Victor Pasmore – there were more eccentric talents of various sizes, like Stanley Spencer and David Jones, who were very English (or very Welsh) and not international at all. In drawings of wrapped sculpture in landscape and moonstruck megaliths Moore and Paul Nash gave even Surrealism an English edge. You could find evidence of deep-rooted native ...


Jeremy Harding: Syd Barrett, 2 January 2003

Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s Lost Genius 
by Tim Willis.
Short Books, 175 pp., £12.99, October 2002, 1 904095 24 0
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... and his hippie I-Chingery, but some of the grittier elements from the first Pink Floyd album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, were inadvertently recycled. You could listen to Roger Waters’s wild, largely instrumental ‘Take up Thy Stethoscope and Walk’ and believe you were more than halfway down the 1970s and through the turnstiles of punk, even though ...


David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... infant Théo. Everything impeccable. Driven back after tea to boulevard Voltaire. Acquired bottle Piper-Heidsieck for later. Tuesday 1 January: SpentRéveillon with Jean-Claude, Annick and friend. Clive James on BBC1 after midnight. Next day, Brasserie lunch in place du Châtelet. Taxi to Musée d’Orsay. Like many other furious people, found it closed ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2010, 16 December 2010

... debatable. It’s a shocking story, with one of the victims having been battered almost to death. David Cameron is quick to move in and claim the crime is evidence of ‘a broken society’, conveniently ignoring the fact that Edlington, the village in question, is smack in the middle of what was a mining community, a society systematically broken by Mrs ...


Kathleen Burk, 9 July 1992

The Barlow Clowes Affair 
by Lawrence Lever.
Macmillan, 278 pp., £17.50, February 1992, 0 333 51377 0
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For whom the bell tolls: The Lesson of Lloyd’s of London 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 358 pp., £18, June 1992, 1 85619 152 4
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The City of London: Continuity and Change, 1850-1990 
by Ranald Michie.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £30, January 1992, 0 333 55025 0
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... wealth as backing. Assume you were an insurance company which had insured an oil rig (say, the Piper Alpha) or an oil tanker (say, the Exxon Valdez). You would naturally wish to lessen your own risk by reinsuring it, and would therefore go to a Lloyd’s broker to do so. The broker would go to one or more underwriters at Lloyd’s and see who would agree ...

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