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Eugene Onegin (Lincoln England)
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Raphael
Raphael
by Antonio Forcellino
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 22.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Art History Circa 1950, 19 Nov 2012
This review is from: Raphael (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The reputation of Raphael, the painter of the Stanze in the Vatican, a contributor to the design of St Peter's and the decorator of the Villa Farnesina has been more prone to the vagaries of fashion than most and often afforded less attention than his contemporaries Michelangelo and Leonardo. Consequently, the publication of a new biography should be a cause of celebration making it all the more regrettable to have to be so negative about this volume especially since the author clearly demonstrates a great sympathy for Raphael and an impressive grasp of the visual complexity of his work. There are a number of reasons for this lukewarm response. Firstly, the methodological approach of the writer is what used to be called 'formalist' placing great emphasis on describing and deciphering the image and being much less interested in the broader context- Art History well into the 1960's used to be dominated by such writing. This way of looking at art also has the effect of giving enormous weight to the individual judgement of the writer encouraging a largely subjective response to the work of art and reducing the role of documentary sources. Certainly this is what happens in this book: although it purports to be a biography, we learn little about Raphael the man or his daily life-what we do learn is the result of the author's supposition not real evidence. No doubt the lack of sources on Raphael's life is a major factor here, but this absence of material is exploited by Forcellino in order to amplify his own personal view of the painter and his work. The chapter on Raphael's childhood and the influence of his artist father is perhaps the best of the book, but the artist's sojourn in Florence is given short shrift and his passionate love life which the author is always alluding to is never actually discussed at all. Forcellino is clearly a devoted fan of the artist and allows this enthusiasm to get the better of him and frequently his prose descends into hyperbole as when labeling Raphael's portraits as 'attaining a level of perfection that was never again reached by any other artist' and words like 'unmatched', 'genius' and 'masterpiece' occur so often as to seriously detract from the case the writer is trying to make. In short this is self indulgent art history which doesn't even see the need for a bibliography at the end or to give locations for all the reproduced works. It is possible to produce hugely readable and academically sound books on art look for example at Andrew Graham-Dixon's excellent book on Caravaggio or Robert Hughes on Goya which models of the genre compared to which this is a mere shadow. In summary, a book which will encourage to look again at some fascinating painting, but as is very disappointing as a biography.


In My View: Personal Reflections on Art by Today's Leading Artists
In My View: Personal Reflections on Art by Today's Leading Artists
by Simon Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Back to the Future, 3 Nov 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
When I started teaching Art History over twenty years ago, I quickly discovered that people who have great talent in the visual arts often do not have a similar gift for writing about it. Alas this book rather proves the point. Ostensibly it is a volume which seeks to demonstrate that despite their protests to the contrary, contemporary artists are profoundly influenced by the work of the Old Masters as well as more recent practitioners-yet these days this seems a less than revolutionary observation. Still a good range of contemporary artists are featured here and it is interesting to see which works and artists they select as particularly important to their career. However, the quality of the writing is very varied-the best contributions come from those artists whose work really is closely intertwined with particular artists or styles-the articles by Bill Viola on Bellini or Gillian Wearing on Ensor clearly show a very precise relationship between past and present. Many other pieces are much less impressive and border on the banal never getting much beyond the 'Caravaggio and me' level. The artists are not helped by the amount of words they are given-in some cases only half a page and most barely reaching 700 words. The diversity of the illustrations is valuable, but the quality of reproduction is mediocre often on the dark side. In summary, I am not sure who this book will appeal to: it is nowhere near detailed enough for the serious student of art and too personalized to be of great interest to the more general reader. In short, a luxury purchase that many will feel able to do without.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2012 12:02 PM GMT


Remington R7150 Black Diamond X Rotary Shaver
Remington R7150 Black Diamond X Rotary Shaver
Offered by EveryDay-Shop
Price: 59.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Top Contender for Fans of Swivel Shavers, 9 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
In order to write a more complete review, I tested this product and then asked a friend to do likewise-one of us was a fan of swivel headed shavers, the other was used to a fixed head model. The consequent reactions were interesting. It was agreed that the shaver had a number of strong points-it looks very good with a handy little stand and a nice carrying pouch. The charge time is decent at around 60 minutes with a digital readout for maximum convenience and it is not too heavy-in short a good bet for travel. In the hand the Remington feels good with a very comfortable rubber grip to avoid slipping and it is very easy to wash and keep clean after use. However, although all of these features are useful to have, at the end of the day 99% of men are most interested in the quality of the shave and this is where opinions differ. For those used to a swivel-headed shave this is really quite impressive especially for the very precise adjustment of the head to the contours of the face, and even more so for the smoothness of the shave where the coating of the blades really does seem to deliver. The trimmer attachment is also excellent for sideburns. Conversely, the friend who was not used to a swivel-headed model found it a slightly strange experience and felt that the shave was less clean than his existing model. Overall, then a good choice for the man used to the swivel headed shaver, but those not used to this type of device will need to think more carefully before purchase.


Culinare 2012 One Touch Soft Touch Can Opener, Black
Culinare 2012 One Touch Soft Touch Can Opener, Black
Price: 11.81

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Kitchen Gadget that really is Worth Having, 1 Oct 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If, like me, you look at the bewildering array of kitchenware that is on the market and think that much of it is stuff that you will never want or need, then hold on for one moment-this little device is actually well worth having. There are a number of reasons for such a strong recommendation. The first is that it is very easy to use-simply place on the tin, press a button to start it and then to stop it, lift off the tin and that literally is all there is to it. Importantly, the can is opened from the inside which means you have no razor sharp edge to slice your fingers on. Two other major advantages are the size (just a few inches) and the fact that it runs on batteries so is therefore ideal to take on a camping or self catering holiday. It looks like it could deal with all tins over about 2 inches or so in diameter. However, for me the people who will really love this device are older or disabled people with limited dexterity in the fingers-the button action device ensures there is no fiddly work to do- for such people this would be a fantastic gift. In short, a well designed and really useful product that will justify the price tag over time.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2013 3:34 AM BST


Rome
Rome
by Robert Hughes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars A Reminder of Who we have Lost, 27 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rome (Paperback)
As with all of Hughes's books, this is a hugely enjoyable, stimulating and often amusing read, but before you buy it, it is important to know just what you are getting. This is not a history of Rome, cultural or otherwise-how could it be in one 500 page volume? Nor though is it really an artistic history of the Eternal City and indeed some of the material here like the section on Futurism has little connection with Rome at all. Then again it is not in any sense a guidebook although I found the book an open invitation to want to visit again. What this volume actually is a chance for Hughes to write about aspects of Italian art and history which particularly interest him with Rome a sort of vague focal point. So expect the classical part to focus on Julius Caesar and Augustus, the medieval part to concentrate (with glorious sarcasm) on the Crusades and the shortcomings of the Catholic Church and then particularly passionate contributions on the Renaissance It is also rather uneven book-the chapters on classical Rome are neither as convincing or pugnacious as the rest. Still, this is well worth buying for the writing-Hughes always make you look and think afresh at whatever he talks about, so whether he is talking about the very familiar like the Sistine Chapel or the more obscure delights of 20th century Italian art you will come away learning something new and with fresh questions in your mind. The epilogue is worth the price of the book alone being a succinct and gloomy assessment of Rome today as a country obsessed with reality TV and football with a lessening appreciation of its culture and history (an observation which applies to any Western country). It should also be noted that while this is a hugely stimulating read, it is not an easy one and if you like to read your books quickly and without a lot of effort, you may find this hard going. The illustrations are rather a weak point-there are not enough of them and the quality leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, this is a very recommendable book and it reminds us again that we have lost a voice who loved art and was not afraid to say when something was bad and good. We need a lot more like him.Goya[[ASIN:186046372X American Visions: Epic History of Art in America]


The Second World War
The Second World War
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Narrative can be Instructive, 9 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Second World War (Hardcover)
If you are are an admirer of Antony Beevor's books, then no doubt you will have bought this long ago, so I write this review for readers who, like me, have not read his work before put off perhaps by their length or by the 'bestselling' hype that tends to surround them. Is this book worth your time and money? On the whole the answer is yes. Undoubtedly Beevor has an enormous knowledge of his subject and has researched extensively, but more importantly he has managed to synthesize this learning into a coherent and wide-ranging narrative which retains focus whether he is is discussing Western Europe, The Eastern Front, North Africa or the Pacific. Let us be clear: this is narrative history which tells the story as it happened and in a way which betrays a historian whose interests are rooted in the military angle. If you are more interested in political history you may find Beevor's descriptions of different weapons or army manoeuvres rather wearing after a while, but there is no doubt that he illustrates on many occasions that it was military imperatives rather than political ideology which drove the course of the conflict. One very refreshing aspect of the author's writing is his willingness to challenge traditional portrayals of some of its celebrated heroes-the sketches of Churchill and Montgomery pull no punches and fall far short of adulation although unfortunately his depictions of Hitler, De Gaulle and Mussolini aren't so perceptive. Let us be clear; if you are looking for a work which focuses on why the War started and the political thinking which shaped it, this is not the book for you-but to be fair this is not what Beevor sets out to do: rather he offers an intelligent, informed and well balanced narrative account of the course of World War II. Whatever your interests all of us need such a work as a point of reference and a framework for more specialized study especially when it as well-written as this.


Frommer's Seville, Granada and the Best of Andalusia (Frommer's Complete Guides)
Frommer's Seville, Granada and the Best of Andalusia (Frommer's Complete Guides)
by Jeremy Head
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails in the Field, 6 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was my first full length Frommer's Travel Guide purchase, bought largely because there was no direct equivalent Rough Guide or Lonely Planet available. When I first opened the book to do a little preparatory reading, initial impressions were quite favorable as the book was written in the third person by a person who seemed to have a deep knowledge of the area. However, I write this review having spent 8 days in Seville using the book in real combat conditions so to speak, and regret to say that the book fell well short in a number of areas. First of all, if you want to do a detailed tour of Seville, the maps are simply inadequate-the old town is a maze of streets and many are either not marked or more often are without their names which makes using them useless for navigational purposes. Secondly, there is considerably more information on top-end hotels and restaurants than actually what to see with a very limited amount of historical or cultural information on the sights. In Cordoba, we had similar problems-the map printed in the book does not even show the railway station and it is claimed that 15 minutes will see you from there to the old town-maybe if you are traveling on Concorde , but for most mortals 30 or more minutes may be required.Furthermore, the text tells you the high-speed rail journey from Cordoba to Seville is 25 minutes when it is actually 45. Such errors undermine your confidence in the volume. There are no photographs in colour in the book and if, like so many, you are bowled over by the beauty of this land and it's buildings there is no section on reading about the history or literature of Spain. In short, the books creates a reasonable first impression, but ultimately fails to deliver the fundamentals you expect from a good guidebook-I shall be returning to the Rough Guides for future trips and suggest you look elsewhere too.


Myspa by Homedics Aroma Pebble Foot Spa with Polished Beach Pebbles
Myspa by Homedics Aroma Pebble Foot Spa with Polished Beach Pebbles
Offered by Urban Trading
Price: 32.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Convienient Foot Jacuzzi, 3 Sep 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The idea of a relaxing spa foot bath after a hard day on your feet is an appealing one and this particular model should meet most user's requirements when buying one: it is easy to use, not too expensive and delivers a truly energizing feeling to tired feet. You have the option of using the spa with or without the beach pebbles provided-most will prefer to have them as one of the best things about the bath is the exfoliating effect created by the combination of stones and moving water. Having filled the unit, a handy device then keeps the water at a consistent temperature and 10-15 minutes of soaking delivers a very pleasant sensation of well being, a feeling enhanced by the addition of an aromatic oil (one 5ml bottle is included, but you can use any brand of your favourite oil once this has run out). There is also a dimmed lighting feature to re-create the ambiance of a spa although to be honest this doesn't add a great deal. As a pick me up after a busy day or a generally enjoyable relaxation this is worth worth having, but clients who are looking for something with more specific functions for medical disorders of the foot will not find what they are looking for here beyond the general effects described above. Nonetheless, a very nice treat and a good gift if you know people who love spending time at Health Spas.


The Rough Guide to the Italian Lakes
The Rough Guide to the Italian Lakes
by Lucy Ratcliffe
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.79

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good One Volume Guide, 12 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this guide for a trip which would take in both Milan and the Lakes and my concern was would there be enough coverage of both in the one book? Well, the good news is that this Rough Guide does fulfill both functions pretty well. The section on Milan is fairly extensive (50 pages) and includes a decent selection of the sights, some useful recommendations on hotels and restaurants and a few maps which are useful albeit not very detailed. The four major lakes also receive similar coverage and importantly include up to date information about boats, special tickets and admission prices. Additionally there are suggestions for other city day trips in the area including Pavia, Verona and Mantova with supporting material. The text is backed up with more colour illustrations than previous Rough Guides that I have purchased and you still get the interesting contexts and further reading sections. Some readers on a budget may find that the recommendations for accommodation and eating have gone rather up market and out of their price range, but for most this is a very handy one volume guide to a gorgeous part of Italy. In the end, I was glad that I chose this particular guide. Recommended.


The Lexicon Of Love
The Lexicon Of Love
Price: 6.07

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Never Goes Out of Fashion, 4 July 2012
This review is from: The Lexicon Of Love (Audio CD)
When this album was released in 1982, I was 15, thin and thought I knew it all. Thirty years on I am fatter and am aware that I know very little. But I do know this record is one of the greatest pop albums ever made and that it should be in any serious collection of pop music. Given that these days the great majority of my listening focuses on classical music then this is perhaps surprising or perhaps it is not because the sound of this music has a symphonic power and the lyrics would not be out of place in an opera house. Why is this album so exceptional? One classic test of the quality of an album is how many bad tracks are mixed in with the good ones-here the answer is simple-there is not one bad song here and indeed some of the ones which were not released as singles like Date Stamped or Many Happy Returns are equally as good as classics like Poison Arrow or The Look of Love. Then there is the gloriously ironic cliche-ridden lyrics which are as fresh and enjoyable now as three decades ago. Then there is the music itself-a complex blend of jazz, funk, percussion and strings with the synths just one element of a complex musical whole. Having a producer like Trevor Horn was obviously a stroke of great good fortune because the instrumentation, the blending and sound are all outstanding. Even the artwork is a masterpiece and entirely true to the spirit of the music. Some would characterize this music as New Romantic, but the truth is like all of the best albums, the Lexicon of Love transcends any genre or era. I direct this review to fans of the Beatles, Progressive Rock, those under 30 who may not know this music or even fans of Sinatra or Bennett. Listen to this and I defy you not to smile and enjoy, admitting as you do,that you have acquired an outstanding album.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 12, 2014 9:58 PM BST


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