Monday, 13 July 2009

Vanity Fair portraits and other coffee table books

Sometimes a book comes in that we can all drool over (not literally - we are much too preservation conscious for that), and Vanity Fair Portraits is a beauty. It was published to accompany a major exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, last year, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, earlier this year. If you missed it you can always hop over to Australia to catch it at the Portrait Gallery in Canberra, 12 June-30 August 2009...

Lived in London is all about those "blue plaques and the stories behind them", and is another richly illustrated official publication (English Heritage this time). A bit too hefty to carry with you on a London walk, nevertheless it is full of fascinating stuff about famous London inhabitants. In Bedford Square alone you can find such diverse figures as the Indian scholar and reformer Ram Mohun Roy, Anthony Hope (who wrote the Prisoner of Zenda), Thomas Wakley, founder of The Lancet,the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and, just round the corner, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, pioneer of women's suffrage.

We get lots of "art" books, usually exhibition catalogues from government-funded institutions, both UK and overseas, so don't think it's all "dry" government statistics here!

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