Thunderclap

by Laura Cumming

£25.00

Biography

Hardback

9781784744526

Published by Vintage Publishing

Published July 2023

Books > Biography

A memoir of art and life & sudden death

‘We see with everything that we are’

On the morning of 12 October 1654, in the Dutch city of Delft, a sudden explosion was followed by a thunderclap that could be heard more than seventy miles away. Carel Fabritius – now known across the world for his exquisite painting, The Goldfinch – had been at work in his studio. He, along with many others, would not survive the day.

In Thunderclap, Laura Cumming reveals her passion for the art of the Dutch Golden Age and her determination to lift up the reputation of Fabritius. She reveals the Netherlands, where – wandering the narrow streets of Amsterdam, driving across the flatlands, or pausing at a quiet waterfront – she encounters the rich reality behind the shining beauty of Vermeer and Rembrandt, Hals and de Hooch. She shares too her relationship with her father, the Scottish artist James Cumming, who had his own deep connection to Dutch painting, and who taught her about colour, light and the rewards of looking deeply.

This is a book about what a picture may come to mean: how it can enter your life and change your thinking in a thunderclap, a sudden clarity of sight. This is also a book about the precariousness of human life – the way it may be snatched from us in an instant. What can art do to sustain us? The work that survives tells its own compelling story in these pages.

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