Archive for category Publisher: Royal Academy

We Think the World of You || David Remfry

I’d better explain that the subtitle to this tells you what it’s about: People and Dogs Drawn Together. And, yes, that wins my personal prize for the most bizarre idea of the year. Maybe even decade. No, millennium. In fact, what in all that’s crazy did a body as august as the RA think they were doing putting their name to this?

I thought we’d better get all that out of the way right at the start, let off steam, because this is a fantastic idea that’s beautifully executed and reproduced. The title and subtitle, of course, are ambiguous. Who thinks the most of who? Both, of course, because the relationship between an owner and their dog is a very special one – I can see that and I’m not even a dog person, by the way. Even if I didn’t, David’s sensitive portraits would convince me.

So, how do you go about presenting a book of drawings of people and dogs? Well, the answer is that you devote a chapter to each session. You get to know the people – some are in the public eye and some aren’t – and then you start sketching to get the basic character. Finally, you put them together and that’s where the alchemy takes place. You know that old adage about people getting to look like their dogs? Well, it’s true, especially when an artist as sensitive as David (try telling me he’s not a dog person) gets under their skin, as a good portraitist should, and exposes their character and inner being. And what’s so brilliant is that he can do this for both humans and animals; it’s a rare artist who’s good at both.

I love this. It’s charming, it has a warm heart and it will make you smile, both from affection and amusement. Of course the RA should be the publisher. Who else has the gravitas?

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The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet || Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis

This simple, charming and remarkably informative book tells the story of Monet’s obsession (I don’t think that’s too strong a word) with his garden. It does so in pictures and very few words and is aimed at children, though is something that’s probably best appreciated in the company of a parent or grandparent. It’s a joy to be shared.

As well as plenty of pictures of Monet at work and play, the book also manages to tell the story of the garden, of Monet’s art and of the early years of the Twentieth Century, including the First World War. It concludes with a one-page summary of Monet’s life that will satisfy the general reader, but also be enough to pique the curiosity of younger ones and, it’s to be hoped, encourage them to spread their wings and discover more about Monet, Impressionism and art in general.

Published by no less august an institution than the Royal Academy, this is authoritative and entertaining and is beautifully produced. My own granddaughter is only a few months old, so too young for it yet. The highest praise I can give it is to say I can’t wait for when I can introduce her to it.

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