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May 1998, No. 1142 – Vol 140

The Burlington Magazine

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Editorial

A New History of the Tate Gallery

It is a brave museum that commissions a distinguished outsider to write a dispassionate review of its history, as the Tate Gallery has done with Frances Spalding's recently published The Tate. A History - intended for the 1997 centenary.' In this country, the British Museum has been a pioneer in self- examination, with Edward Miller's That Noble Cabinet of 1974 and Marjorie Caygill's affectionate but not uncritical studies. The Victoria and Albert Museum has chosen to exhibit its history and to recount it in post-modern fashion through contrasting and overlapping points of view - while skating rapidly over the thin ice of recent controversies.2 Spalding's clear-eyed account of the Tate does not shirk certain troubled episodes in the 1980s in addition to more celebrated earlier calamities such as the 'Tate Affair' of the 1950s - which occupies some of the book's most engrossing chapters.

 

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  • Whistler's 'The White Girl': Painting, Poetry and Meaning

    By Robin Spencer

    Whistler's The White Girl (Fig. 1) has an ambivalent place in the history of nineteenth-century painting, not least because the artist retitled it Symphony in White No. I in order to conform with his later belief that 'Art should be independent of all clap-trap - should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love, patriotism, and the like." By retrospectively titling a sequence of syn- aesthetic 'Symphonies in White', Whistler encouraged the belief that his art had aspired to these criteria from the start. Critics and biographers following Theodore Duret and the Pennells, with whom Whistler colluded to rewrite his own art history, have continually repeated Paul Mantz's 1863 description of The White Girl as a 'symphonie du blanc', to correspond with the modernist self-image Whistler adopted; thus relationships which Mantz and other critics found between Whistler's picture and the art of the past have been minimised and the painting's subject matter has been neglected.

     

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  • Cézanne and Zola: A Reassessment of 'L'Eternel féminin'

    By Benjamin Harvey

    An 'apotheosis, with the chorus of cuckolds on their knees singing a hymn of praise to Venus', 'a rising sun shining in triumph over a bloody battlefield', 'a plant flourishing on a dung-heap': all of these could be somewhat metaphorical descriptions of Cezanne's L'Eternel feminin (Figs. 19 and 22).' In fact, they are taken from Emile Zola's notorious novel, Nana, and express the relationship between the Second Empire courtesan and the society she holds to ransom - a degenerate society heading inexorably towards the Franco- Prussian War, and ruin.2 The young Nana first appeared in Zola's L'Assommoir in 1876, where she inspired an illustration by Renoir and, probably, Manet's well-known painting.3 Nana the novel, on the other hand, was serialised in Le Voltaire during the later months of 1879.' When it finally emerged in book form, the following February, Zola followed his custom of sending a copy to Cezanne, who was then living in Melun. The painter's reply clearly indicates his enthusiasm for the novel, going beyond mere courtesy, and also suggests his profound interest in Nana's risque' theme.

     

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  • Les Dessins du Fonds Robert de Cotte de la Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Architecture et Decor

    By Robin Middleton
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  • Catalogue des Peintures et Dessins. Musee de la Revolution Francaise, Vizille

    By Linda Whiteley
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  • La mort de Brutus de Pierre-Narcisse Guerin

    By Richard Wrigley
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  • Comprendre l'Eclectisme

    By Barry Bergdoll
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  • Paul Delaroche. History Painted

    By Neil McWilliam
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  • Charles Gleyre 1806-1874. Vol. I, Life and Works; Vol. II, Catalogue Raisonne

    By Neil McWilliam
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  • The Barbizon School and the Origins of Impressionism

    By John Sillevis
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  • Intimate Encounters. Love and Domesticity in Eighteenth-Century France

    By Katie Scott
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  • Rodin and Michelangelo: A Study in Artistic Inspiration

    By Philip Ward-Jackson
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  • Pissarro, Neo-Impressionism, and the Spaces of the Avant-Garde

    By Henri Dorra
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  • Andre Derain. Catalogue raisonne de l'oeuvre peint. Tome II (1915-1934)

    By Merlin James
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  • Gauguin's Skirt

    By Colin Rhodes
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  • Surrealism: Surrealist Visuality

    By Robert Radford
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  • The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp

    By David Hopkins
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  • Rene Magritte: Catalogue Raisonne

    By Dawn Ades
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  • Francesco Salviati. Rome and Paris

    By David Jaffé
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  • Visions du nord, Kirkeby, Nuit blanche. Paris

    By Jill (J. L.) Lloyd
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  • Max Liebermann. Berlin, Leipzig and Hanover

    By Jonathan Osmond
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  • Paul Gauguin. Stuttgart

    By Belinda Thomson
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  • The Re-Opened Moderna Museet and 'Arkipelag'. Stockholm

    By Tony Godfrey
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  • Moran and Turner. Tulsa

    By John Wilson
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