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

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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.

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