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In Search of Rex Whistler: His Life and His Work Hardcover – 22 Nov 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln; First Thus Edition edition (22 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071123230X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711232303
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 3.2 x 29.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Sharp-nosed and perceptive'

(Times Literary Supplement)

'Not merely a delight to read, well researched and carefully organised, but also lavishly illustrated and beautifully designed'

(Country Life)

'A considerable work of art in itself. The Cecils’ text is very well organised, exhaustive in research and information, and enjoyable and lively. There is not a single flat sentence.'

(The Spectator)

'A superb new biography … which throws new light on to the artist’s complex world, marks the resounding reclamation of his reputation.'

(Financial Times)

'A beautifully illustrated biography of the multi-talented artist'

(Stella, Sunday Telegraph magazine)

'An intensely romantic window on a lost world is opened by [this book]'

(Marcus Binney The Times)

'a worthy and long-overdue appraisal'

(Apollo)

'a fine tribute to a major artist.  The text is informative and sensitive, the illustrations are truly magnificent, and the attention to detail throughout is exemplary.'

(Standpoint)

'Probably the most tenderly beautiful book of the year, filled with Whistler's superb fantasies'

(Daily Express)

'covers the spectrum of his work, including the astonishingly numberous items he managed to paint after enlisting in 1940.  The book is a pleasure to read and the visual joys are innumerable.'

(Historic House)

'A highly readable journey through the life of Britain's most notable 20th-century mural painter.'

(Art Quarterly)

'sympathetically and clearly written, highly detailed with a nice mix of art and life.'

(Andrew Lambirth The Art Newspaper)

'a very beautiful book that will help to re-establish a lost reputation'

(RA (Royal Academy) magazine)

'a rich and satisfying record of the artist's achievement, as well as a vivid sense of the man'

(Times Literary Supplement)

 "a visual feast ... [as well as] a concise biography of the artist and his times that is elegantly readable ... So rich is Whistler's art as portrayed in this book that it is tempting to go on and on writing about it.  I can only urge anyone who cares about art or has an interest in the first half of the last century to get this book."

(British Art Journal)

About the Author

HUGH and MIRABEL CECIL's previous joint biography, Clever Hearts: A Life of Desmond and Molly McCarthy (1990) won the Duff Cooper Prizr and the Marsh Biography Award. Their Imperial Marriage (2002) told the story of Lord Edward Cecil, his wife Violet and Lord Milner, with whom she was in love. Hugh Cecil's other books include The Flower of Battle: How Britain Wrote the Great War (1996) and, as co-editor, Facing Armageddon (1996). Mirabel Cecil has written A Kind of Prospero (1995), the biography of her brother, the pioneering publisher Sebastian Walker and, with David Mlinaric, On Decorating. Her last book was The Journal of Mrs Sloane's Dog Fanny, published in 2010 for the Sir John Sloan Museum.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Flint on 22 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors in their preface say they hope to improve on the current reputation of RW as a serious artist, which has perhaps been influenced by the fact that RW worked in so many fields - murals, book illustration, stage design, posters, even a toile de jouy [look it up]. A possible case of Jack of all trades, master of none. The authors have carried out extensive research, quoting memoirs of comtemporaries and information from the Whistler family. As a man, it seems that RW lived precariously on the income from his work, was careless about money, was not career minded and possessed a solitary melancholic streak which is reflected in some of his work. The text of the book is very informative, but the most valuable elements are the large number of colour illustrations, which are of the highest quality. I found the work RW produced in his four years army service, mostly portraits and sketches of army life, to be particlarly interesting. Inevitably, one thinks of what might have been if he had survived the war. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Five stars are hardly sufficient for this book which is wonderfully presented and a joy to own. Hugh and Mirabel Cecil have done an excellent job in presenting a first rate biography of Rex Whistler and a very thorough and well researched examination of his art. The book is lavishly illustrated with a particular delight awaiting the reader when they come to consider the Plas Newdd mural. Much work has been done in gaining access to the various pieces of work and providing new excellent quality photographs. The Cecils take us through Whistler's childhood, his study under the renowned Professor Tonks at the Slade and on to his first important commission, the mural in the Tate Britain restaurant (currently being restored). The enduring friendships that Whistler formed with a number of the `bright young things' of the day such as Stephen Tennant and Cecil Beaton as well as his `retreat' to Edith Olivier and the Daye House at Wilton House are dealt with in a straightforward and engaging way. Moving on the authors deal with other important mural commissions and Whistler's ever expanding endeavours into book illustration and design for the theatre. As Whistler's fame grows so his circle of friends and romantic attachments widened with the Dudley Ward sisters and the difficult Caroline Paget, one of the daughters of Lord and Lady Anglesey his most important patrons. Other attachments were to follow and these are revealed in a warm and affectionate but always straightforward and frank way by the authors, particularly the slight ambiguity as to his true sexual preference.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. E. G on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Truly Beautiful book with many glorious pictures of the Artist's Work more than came up to expectations on the life of one of the greatest mural painters of the last century who sadly died so young and neverthe less left much beautiful work also covered
many other aspects of his life.in the book. Arrived over a week sooner than expected in perfect order and I look forward to many hours browsing through it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nash Rambler on 20 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
In Search of Rex Whistler; convincingly confirms that he was an utterly charming man and artist, as naturally talented and socially mobile as Ryder. In his fictional portrait, Waugh was not being unfair about Whistler's work, but his expectations were too high. For Whistler's aim was to give pleasure, and the modesty of this ambition accounts for a large part of what is so charming about his work.

Reginald John "Rex" Whistler, artist, designer and illustrator, was born on June 24, 1905, at Eltham, Kent, into the respectable middle class, the son of Henry Whistler and Helen Frances Mary Ward; and no apparent relation to the celebrated artist, James McNeill Whistler. However, he was the maternal grandson of the Rev. Charles Slegg Ward, Vicar of Wootton St Lawrence, Basingstoke and maternal great-great-grandson of Paul Storr, the silversmith.

In May 1919 he was sent to boarding school at Haileybury, where he showed a precocious talent for art, providing set designs for play productions and giving away sketches to prefects in lieu of "dates" (a punishment at Haileybury, similar to "lines" whereby offenders are required to write out set lists of historical dates). Even before he left school at Haileybury, a remarkable talent for draughtsmanship, along with imagination and humour in its execution, had already become apparent in his work.

After a false start at the Royal Academy, Whistler's career was meteoric. Even as a star student at the Slade; under the redoubtable Henry Tonks, he was a lovely draughtsman and accomplished painter in oils, well earning the frank admiration of the famously demanding Professor Tonks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William on 17 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book, beautifully produced. The reproductions are absolutely breathtaking with very few exceptions. But the real joy of In Search of Rex Whistler is that it is such a wonderful read. I love Whistler for his artistic versatility and range and now I have fallen for the man himself: immensely hard working, loyal, generous and kind. His early death at the end of the war was a true tragedy.
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