From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of On Chapel Sands, shortlisted for the Costa Prize for Biography
‘No one writes art like Laura Cumming‘ Philip Hoare, author of Albert and the Whale
‘I will never look at any painting in the same way again’ Polly Morland, author of A Fortunate Woman
‘We see with everything that we are’
On the morning of 12 October 1654, in the Dutch city of Delft, a sudden explosion was followed by a thunderclap that could be heard more than seventy miles away. Carel Fabritius – now known across the world for his exquisite painting, The Goldfinch – had been at work in his studio. He, along with many others, would not survive the day.
In Thunderclap, Laura Cumming reveals her passion for the art of the Dutch Golden Age and her determination to lift up the reputation of Fabritius. She reveals the Netherlands, where – wandering the narrow streets of Amsterdam, driving across the flatlands, or pausing at a quiet waterfront – she encounters the rich reality behind the shining beauty of Vermeer and Rembrandt, Hals and de Hooch. She shares too her relationship with her father, the Scottish artist James Cumming, who had his own deep connection to Dutch painting, and who taught her about colour, light and the rewards of looking deeply.
This is a book about what a picture may come to mean: how it can enter your life and change your thinking in a thunderclap, a sudden clarity of sight. This is also a book about the precariousness of human life – the way it may be snatched from us in an instant. What can art do to sustain us? The work that survives tells its own compelling story in these pages.
Praise for On Chapel Sands, a Sunday Times Memoir of the Year:
‘Cumming skilfully withholds key twists in the tale, revealing them at just the right moment‘ The Times
‘Outstanding . . . A peerless detective story that keeps you guessing to the end’ Sunday Times
Praise for The Vanishing Man, winner of the James Tait Black Prize:
‘Superb and original‘ Sunday Times
‘Sumptuous . . . A gleaming work of someone at the peak of her craft‘ New York Times