This is a portrait of Diego Velazquez, from his arrival at the court of King Philip IV of Spain, to his death 38 years and scores of paintings later. It is a portrait of a relationship that is not quite a friendship, between an artist and his subject. It is a portrait of a ruler, always on duty, and increasingly burdened by a life of public expectation and repeated privateThis is a portrait of Diego Velazquez, from his arrival at the court of King Philip IV of Spain, to his death 38 years and scores of paintings later. It is a portrait of a relationship that is not quite a friendship, between an artist and his subject. It is a portrait of a ruler, always on duty, and increasingly burdened by a life of public expectation and repeated private grief. And it is a portrait of a court collapsing under the weight of its own excess. Unfolding through series of masterly set-pieces and glancing sketches, this is a novel of brilliance, imagination and sheer style -- about what is shown and what is seen, about art and life....
|Title||:||Painter to the King|
|Number of Pages||:||336 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Painter to the King Reviews
Every so often, a novel comes along that challenges one’s expectations of the genre. Amy Sackville’s Painter to the King is one such work. It is, ostensibly, a fictional biography of Diego Velázquez, covering in particular the decades he spent in the service of King Philip IV of Spain and the relationship which developed between the artist and the monarch who was his royal/loyal patron. Sackville is surprisingly faithful to the ‘facts’, even down to what may seem trivial historical details. Yet, her novel is by no means a straightforward retelling of the life of Velázquez. For a start, she adopts a sort of stream of consciousness narration – which is often breathless and febrile, on occasion seemingly tentative or improvisatory. It feels as if we have stepped into a painting which is taking shape or as if we’re standing behind the painter, watching as he sketches at his easel. This impression is strengthened by the very ‘visual’ descriptions, full of colour and movement and the play of light and dark. Indeed, the chapters often have the atmosphere of a tableau, a scene ready to be set down for posterity.At intervals, the third person approach is interrupted by the narrator intruding with her own ruminations. One should always be wary of identifying the author with the novel’s subject, but it is difficult not to see Sackville herself in the thirty-something narrator embarking on a literary pilgrimage on the steps of Velázquez. It is an inspired touch gives the novel a personal meaning and reveals that it is a labour of love. At the same time, however, it can be taken as a warning that, despite all endeavours at authenticity, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recreate the past and particularly the thoughts and feelings of historical figures. This novel is, indeed, biographical and historical but is equally a very contemporary ‘imagining’ of the past.And this brings us to the heart of what is, ultimately, a highly philosophical novel. I felt Painter to the King to be an exploration of the correlation between art and artifice, truth and reality, public personas and private feelings. The characters the novel are constantly preoccupied as to what will survive after their death – the King’s obsession with having his portraits painting is a way of ensuring his memory remains. But even though Diego is notorious for his devastating honesty and his inability to “lie” in his portraits, can we be sure that the King we know is not shaped by the painter’s imagination, just as Diego and his monarch speak to us through Sackville’s prose?I found this to be a challenging novel, one which I read over a number of weeks alongside less demanding fare. But it is an impressive achievement and I would be surprised and disappointed if this is not – deservedly – recognised when the time for literary awards arrives.
'Here you almost are'An unusual novel that attempts to articulate a man, an artist and his works in words. Framed through a narrator imaginatively entering into a painting, this is a paradoxically impressionistic work, given that Velazquez's own works were more concerned with the physical materialism of court, world and personality. Looking obliquely at the courtly world of seventeenth century Spain, the rituals, the patronage, the incessant concern with creating the right image of power, monarchy and authority, this foregrounds the historicised struggle of an artist to be viewed as a poet of paint, rather than mere artisan.Oddly propulsive, moving from ecphrasis to fragments of life, this is a postmodern attempt to capture visual art in words.Thanks to Granta for an ARC via NetGalley.
This is a challenging but rewarding look at the life of Spanish painter diego velazquez. Much of the prose here feels like Amy Sackville is painting with words. While the artist she discusses is known for realistic creations this book is very much the opposite of that. Here we have beautiful images created through words that somehow weave together a story framed by a narrator looking back on the life of an artist through his own works. If that sounds a little unusual, it's because this book is just that. Unusual, odd, challenging, rewarding, poignant, modern yet classical. This book resists obvious classification. I am not sure exactly who I could recommend this to. However, I would have doubted my own enjoyment of this book given that I had never heard of the artist, had never seen his works and I have little interest in the historical period covered. And yet, I still really enjoyed it. So, if you're in the market for something a little different, I guess I would advise giving this a go.