In this series of beautifully written essays Julian Barnes takes us on a journey from Romanticism to Realism and into Modernism and it is all, as you would expect, a pleasure to explore. Focusing chiefly on French artists, the joy of these essays lies in the painterly details that Barnes brings to life with his novelist’s eye and his deft turn of phrase. There is much to admire in his approach to the great works and an especially good essay on Lucien Freud.
Word is that Barnes insisted his publishers only bring this fine collection out in paperback to allow students to use and buy the book and quite right he is too. There is much for them to learn and enjoy here.