Hughes manages to show how popular art criticism can and should be done. Eschewing jargon, he ranges from Old Masters to contemporaries, most of the latter he has no time for and skewers whenever he can - they are, after all, a juicy target. He writes beautifully; just look at the description of Goya's '2nd of May' cavalryman's sabre or the look of Van Gogh's Provence. This is someone with a novelist's gifts and in service of one who is serious but never pompous. I always find this book a delight, and whether I happen upon a piece on, say, Reynolds ('Sir Sploshua' as a contemporary called him) or the British portraitists, Hughes finds much undervalued, he always has fascinating, often provocative things to say. He is quite prepared to call trash, trash; he is equally unashamed to laud the unfashionable, like Singer-Sargeant or the PreRaphaelites. Every page has something to relish; there are few in any field of whom one may say that. This man values skill and has it in abundance in his criticism. And bravo for calling out the art market rather presciently.