mon 26/08/2019

The Genius of British Art, David Starkey, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

The Genius of British Art, David Starkey, Channel 4

The Genius of British Art, David Starkey, Channel 4

David Starkey's polemical essay on royal portraiture is intriguing but fanciful

Forgetting the rest of art history, David Starkey cunningly tries to convince us that the Tudors invented the portrait

“Henry VIII is the only king whose shape we remember,” David Starkey tells us in the first of a new series of “polemical essays” on British art. To demonstrate, he reduces the king’s form to its bare Cubist geometry. He sketches a trapezoid for the chest – an impressive 54 inches in life, as attested by his made-to-measure suit of armour; two “chicken-wing” triangles for the puffed sleeves; two simple parallel lines for the wide-apart legs. Oh, and a small, inverted triangle for the codpiece. This last addition, as originally drawn-in for comedic value by the Tudor historian G R Elton, and fondly recalled, never failed to raise a titter amongst the callow students of Dr Starkey’s Cambridge undergraduate days.

As a historian Starkey is terrifically persuasive, but as an art historian he definitely plays fast and loose with his subject

Share this article

Comments

Rushed home in order to catch the beginning of this ..... wish I hadn't, found David Starkey's ideas uninventive and unimpassioned turned over in desparation to watch end of golf. Hope rest of series is better.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters