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Sans Sunflowers

David Solkin, 7 July 1994

Nineteenth-Century Art: A Critical History 
by Stephen Eisenman, Thomas Crow, Brian Lukacher, Linda Nochlin and Frances Pohl.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 500 23675 5
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... innovative’ developments in Western visual culture, over a period starting with David’s politically-engaged works of the 1780s, and culminating in Cézanne’s ‘revolutionary’ but ‘apolitical’ modernism a century later. Very few of the artists or images discussed along the way would look out of place in the most conventional of ...

Pushy Times

David Solkin, 25 March 1993

The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880 
by Andrew Wilton and Anne Lyles.
Prestel, 339 pp., £21.50, January 1993, 3 7913 1254 5
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... In a notebook entry written during the summer of 1743, the English engraver George Vertue paid tribute to his friend the ‘ingenious’ William Taverner, who ‘besides his practice of the Law ... has an extraordinary Genius in drawing and painting Landskips, equal if not superior in some degree to any painter in England’. Like other contemporary amateur producers of landscape watercolours, Taverner must have been aware that the favourite occupation of his leisure hours had long been associated with the demonstration of power and prestige; Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier (first English translation, 1561) was only the first of many treatises on aristocratic conduct to recommend drawing as an activity appropriate to men of the highest rank ...

‘Village Politicians’

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 December 2008

... When David Wilkie’s ‘Village Politicians’ first appeared at the Royal Academy in 1806 it caused a sensation. Less than ten years after the end of the French Revolution, less than ten years before Waterloo, we find a room of common Scots not only arguing the political toss but represented in a style that seeks neither to caricature them nor to elevate them ...

In Cardiff

John Barrell: Richard Wilson, 25 September 2014

... greeted the last major Wilson exhibition, Richard Wilson: The Landscape of Reaction, curated by David Solkin, now of the Courtauld Institute, certainly the best, and probably the most respected, historian of 18th-century British art now practising. In the introduction to his excellent and, as it turned out, controversial catalogue, ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... he was writing a history of theory, partly because the painters did not correspond to the theory. David Solkin’s Painting for Money returns the painters to the story. Hogarth is here as well as other anti-civic humanist painters, and there is even a spokesman for the opposition to Shaftesbury, Bernard Mandeville. But Mandeville is presented as an ...

The view from the street

John Barrell, 7 April 1994

Hogarth. Vol. I: The ‘Modern Moral Subject’, 1697-1732 
by Ronald Paulson.
Lutterworth, 411 pp., £35, May 1992, 0 7188 2854 2
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... with about as much in common as Michael Howard and Dennis Skinner. One of them is described by David Solkin in his Painting for Money, reviewed in these pages last year by Ronald Paulson. Solkin’s Hogarth is an ambitious social climber, determined to efface the memory of his beginnings as an apprentice in the ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 2 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... 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 ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... from the picture then Panofsky’s arch will overbalance and the critic with it. To suggest, as David Solkin does in his conclusion, that Joseph Wright’s An Experiment on the Bird in the Air Pump can ‘offer us a timely word of warning, before we join the chorus of acclamation for those market forces we see marching in apparent triumph across the ...

Constable’s Plenty

John Barrell, 15 August 1991

by Leslie Parris and Ian Fleming-Williams.
Tate Gallery, 544 pp., £45, June 1991, 1 85437 071 5
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Romatic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition 
by Jonathan Bate.
Routledge, 131 pp., £8.99, May 1991, 0 415 06116 4
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... chosen policy. The key event here is the Richard Wilson exhibition of 1982-3, organised by David Solkin, whose thoughtful and carefully researched catalogue attempted to situate Wilson’s landscapes in a range of historical contexts including the moral and political ideas and ideals attached to the ownership of land in the 18th ...

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