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The Face of Britain: A History of the Nation Through Its Portraits

by (Oxford University Press)

(11 reviews)

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Author of a number of celebrated works, including the bestselling The Story of the Jews and Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama's latest book fuses history and art to create a tour de force of narrative sweep and illuminating insight. Using images from works-paintings, photographs, lithographs, etchings, sketches-found in London's National Portrait Gallery, The Face of Britain weaves together an account of their composition, framed by their particular moment of creation, and in the process unveils a collective portrait of nation and its history.

"Portraits," Schama writes, "have always been made with an eye to posterity." Commissioned to paint Winston Churchill in 1954, Graham Sutherland struggled with how to capture the "savior" of Great Britain honestly and humanely. Schama calls the portrait, initially damned, the "most powerful image of a Great Briton ever executed." Annie Leibovitz's photograph of a nude John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono, taken five hours before his murder, bears "a weight of poignancy she could not possibly have anticipated." Hans Holbein's preparatory sketch for a portrait of Henry VIII depicts "an unstoppable engine of dynastic generation." Here are expressions from across the centuries of normalcy and heroism, beauty and disfigurement, aristocracy and deprivation, the familiar and the obscure-the faces of courtesans, warriors, workers, activists, playwrights, the high and mighty as well as pub-crawlers. Linking them is Schama's vibrant exploration of how their connective power emerges from the dynamic between subject and artist, work and viewer, time and place.

Schama's compelling analysis and impassioned evocation of these works create an unforgettable verbal mosaic that at once reveals and transforms the images he places before us. Lavishly illustrated and written with the storytelling brio that is Schama's trademark, The Face of Britain invites us to look at a nation's visual legacies and find its reflection.

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  • We started tracking this book on August 15, 2016.
  • This book was $26.99 when we started tracking it.
  • The price of this book has changed 106 times in the past 981 days.
  • The current price of this book is $4.08 last checked 8 hours ago.
  • The lowest price to date was $4.08 last reached on April 18, 2019.
  • This book has been $4.08 one time since we started tracking it.
  • The highest price to date was $26.99 last reached on November 20, 2017.
  • This book has been $26.99 2 times since we started tracking it.
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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: August 16, 2016
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Print Length: 632 Pages
  • File Size: 105,027 KB

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