The Hyman Collection

Past masters: 100 of the best pictures by British photographers since the 1920s The writer William Boyd asks how, in an age of selfies, we are able to judge which images should endure William Boyd FEBRUARY 21 2020 Back in the summer of 1982, I was living and working in Oxford but spending a lot of […]


The Shipwreck, the Scandal, the MasterpieceBy Jonathan Miles334 pp. Jonathan Cape  £17.99 On July 2nd 1816 the French frigate Medusa, en route for Senegal, ran aground on the dreaded Arguin sand bank off the west coast of Africa. Incompetent seamanship had landed the vessel there and attempts to refloat the Medusa over the next couple […]

A Life of Picasso

Volume III: The Triumphant Years 1917-1932By John Richardson It’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves at the outset, as we reach volume III of John Richardson’s stupendous biography of Picasso, exactly where we are. Picasso died in April 1973, aged 91, and it comes as something of a shock to realise that at the end of this […]

Mark Rothko

By William Boyd On the 29th February 1972 the English artist Keith Vaughan went to see an exhibition of Mark Rothko paintings. Vaughan recorded the occasion in his diary: ‘To Hayward Gallery in the afternoon to see Rothkos. Feeble stuff. Large décor.  Boring to paint and look at.  Not surprising he killed himself if that […]

Paul Joyce

Introduction by William Boyd Photography has been called the ‘artless art’ — the somewhat facile implication behind the adjective being that anyone with a camera is capable, by hazard, of producing a great or striking photograph.  A combination of chance, circumstance, the camera and its capacities (increasingly sophisticated in this digital age) coheres in the […]

The Leopold Museum

By William Boyd In 1969, when I was seventeen and sitting my Art ‘A’ level (I had dreams of becoming a painter, then), my constant book of reference was A Dictionary of Modern Painting, published by Methuen. This was a highly eclectic and scholarly A-to-Z (from Apollinaire to Zandomeneghi) some 400 pages long with contributions from […]