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  • Published: 16 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9780241963715
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

The Face of Britain

The Nation through Its Portraits




A landmark event: our past and present, revealed through portraits, tying in to a major BBC series

Churchill and his painter locked in a struggle of stares and glares; Gainsborough watching his daughters run after a butterfly; a naked John Lennon five hours before his death.

Simon Schama has written a tour de force about British portraits over the centuries in which the image-maker, the subject and everyone else looking on are brought unforgettably to life. Mesmerising in its extraordinary storytelling, and beautifully illustrated, The Face of Britain will change the way we see our past - and ourselves.

  • Published: 16 September 2015
  • ISBN: 9780241963715
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 448

About the author

Simon Schama

Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. His award-winning books, translated into fifteen languages, include Citizens,Landscape and Memory, Rembrandt's Eyes,A History of Britain,The Power of Art,Rough Crossings, The American Future, The Face of Britain and The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE - 1492).

His art columns for the New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism and his journalism has appeared regularly in the Guardian and the Financial Times where he is Contributing Editor. He has written and presented more than fifty films for the BBC on subjects as diverse as Tolstoy, American politics, and The Story of the Jews and is co-presenter of a new landmark series on the history of world art, Civilisations.

Also by Simon Schama

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Praise for The Face of Britain

Schama's greatest gift is a sure eye for an extraordinary story...This isn't what you get from conventional historians or conventional art writers, more's the pity...Schama has written books which will still be bought and talked about a century from now and he hasn't lost an ounce of zest or intelligence. Damn him...

Andrew Marr, Prospect

He knows the history, the biography, and the art history...he made me look and learn. He is a great storyteller and we learn something new on every page.

A S Byatt, New Statesman

All of these lives rendered with an acuity of detail that could rival the best of portraitists ... describing Lawrence's portrait of Wilberforce, Schama calls the painting a work of "transforming empathy". That phrase could be true of his storytelling throughout this book.

Ekow Eshun, The Independent

Simon Schama's richly illustrated history of Britain in portraits is a work of dazzling panache ... a book to devour.

John Carey, Sunday Times

He has animated our portraits superlatively. One of our most in-demand public intellectuals has deftly ventriloquised his talking heads.

Stephen Smith, Evening Standard

Wonderfully compelling ... what this book, full of unhackneyed paintings and unfamiliar stories, shows is that when Schama is at his best he can see straight through people.

Michael Prodger, The Times

Rich in its variety of subjects ... poignantly memorable

Martin Gayford, Telegraph

Some of the best writing on British portraiture I have read.

Bendor Grosvenor, Financial Times

He is both an inspired communicator of detail and context, an excitable and exciting critic and a sleeve-tugging gossip. The idea of portraiture is a perfect vehicle for his detailed imagination...the subjects of the portraits become uncannily alive.

Tim Adams, The Observer

Viewers of his TV shows know what a passionate presenter of his subject - art history - Simon Schama is. He button-holes your eye on his inward voyage of imagination. He does it as compulsively on the page as on screen ... I welcome back in this book history as people - people whose characters can be read in their fascinating faces.

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

Inspiring ... Schama tells it with panache, weaving facts and anecdotes into a vivid history.

Observer on 'The Story of the Jews'

Schama has a masterly ability to conjure up character and vivify conflict

Financial Times on 'A History of Britain'

With Schama you look at a picture and see it as you hadn't before

Telegraph on 'Rembrandt's Eyes'

Splendid, spirited, immensely enjoyable and wide-ranging

Financial Times on 'The Story of the Jews'

Shows Schama at his best . . . as full of memorable incident as a Bellow novel and wittier than a Woody Allen movie

The Times on 'The Story of the Jews'

Schama writes with grace and wit, and his enthusiasms are contagious

Anita Brookner on 'The Embarrassment of Riches'

Dazzling, beyond praise

Sunday Times on 'Citizens'

Splendid...seething with ideas. Schama brings great intimacy and authority to proceedings

New York Times Book Review

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