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date: 07 August 2020

Dickens, Charles (John Huffam)locked

(b Portsmouth, Feb 7, 1812; d Gads Hill, Kent, June 8, 1870).
  • Leonée Ormond

Extract

(John Huffam)

(b Portsmouth, Feb 7, 1812; d Gads Hill, Kent, June 8, 1870).

English writer. His early experience of the fine arts was restricted. He admired Hans Holbein the younger’s Dance of Death woodcuts (1538) and the work of William Hogarth and was an occasional visitor to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 1844–5 he spent 11 months abroad. Pictures from Italy (London, 1846) is vigorously inconoclastic about the Old Masters, castigating hypocrites who profess to admire damaged or incompetent paintings. Dickens’s response to Rome was largely hostile, and he greatly preferred Venice, where he delighted in Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin altarpiece (1518; S Maria dei Frari) and in Domenico Tintoretto’s Paradise (1588; Venice, Doge’s Pal.), a surprising choice at a time when few rated Tintoretto’s work highly. A second visit to Venice in 1853, reflected in Little Dorrit (London, 1857), confirmed the impression.

Dickens’s friendships with such artists as David Wilkie, Daniel Maclise, Clarkson Stanfield and Augustus Egg influenced his taste in contemporary painting. He occasionally expressed weariness with English genre painting, particularly at the Exposition Universelle of ...

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