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Thunderclap: A memoir of art and life & sudden death by Laura Cumming

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Description

**LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2024**
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE WRITERS' PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2024**

'A wonderful read (or a great present) for anyone who loves stories and art' Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

A beautifully illustrated new memoir of a life in art, a father and daughter, and what a shared love of a painting can come to mean.

'We see with everything that we are'

On the morning of 12 October 1654, a gunpowder explosion devastated the Dutch city of Delft. The thunderclap was heard over seventy miles away. Among the fatalities was the painter Carel Fabritius, dead at thirty-two, leaving only his haunting masterpiece The Goldfinch and barely a dozen known paintings. The explosion that killed him also buried his reputation, along with answers to the mysteries of his life and career.

What happened to Fabritius before and after this disaster is just one of the discoveries in a book that explores the relationship between art and life, interweaving the lives of Laura Cumming, her Scottish painter father, who also died too young, and the great artists of the Dutch Golden Age.

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 SUNDAY TIMES, DAILY EXPRESS AND GUARDIAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 2023**

'Brilliant ... rush out and buy it' Edmund de Waal, bestselling author of The Hare with Amber Eyes



About the Author
Laura Cumming has been chief art critic of the Observer since 1999. Her books include A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits (2009) and The Vanishing Man: In Pursuit of Velazquez (2016) which won the James Tait Black Biography Prize. Her family memoir, On Chapel Sands: my Mother and other Missing Persons (2019) was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford, Costa and Rathbone's Folio prizes.

Reviews
A book that often borders on the sublime in its sentiment and beauty * Sunday Times *
Cumming is a word-painter ... When something fascinates Laura Cumming, she makes sure, with her beguiling prose, that we too are caught up in her fascination * The Times *
Cumming clearly loves these paintings, and by weaving together vivid evocations of ones that particularly move her with brief biographies of the men and women who painted them, she invites us to share that love * New York Times *
Exquisite... [Cumming's] pages are themselves lovely exercises in poetic vision and stay with you long after you finish -- Simon Schama, author of BELONGING * Guardian *
No one writes art like Laura Cumming . . . There's a passionate energy in this book, a dexterity of description and narrative and a sensitivity to the subtleties of painting and personal memory that leaves you utterly breathless and transfixed. You are never going to read a better book about the experience of art - and of love * Philip Hoare, author of Albert & the Whale *
Cumming unwraps the truth of Fabritius, Vermeer and other artists in the catastrophically shattered town of Delft with glowing intelligence, in prose that shines and beams and recreates life almost to the point of photosynthesis * Candia McWilliam, author of What to Look For in Winter *
A masterpiece ... So moving and profound in its compassion for our short, vivid lives. I will never look at any painting in the same way again * Polly Morland, author of A Fortunate Woman *
With Thunderclap, Laura Cumming does for Dutch Golden Age painting and the curious life of an art critic what H Is for Hawk did for T H White and falconry. This deeply personal analysis of what it is to gaze and wonder, to read stories in centuries-old oil paint, will send you hurrying back to your nearest gallery * Patrick Gale, author of Mother's Boy *
Cumming writes with the sureness of carefully laid paint... she brings him [Fabritius] out of the shadows, making us see why he is so much more than the missing link in someone else's story * Guardian *
Pretty much anything is a focal point for Cumming's eye. She writes in such granular detail about these paintings...that she can leave you feeling you've never properly studied anything in your life * Mail on Sunday *
[A] lustrous meditation on the lives and after-lives of artists ... with a novelist's pace, a critic's eye, a daughter's heart * Financial Times *
[An] excellent book about art, life and death * i *
The author blends elements seamlessly ... Cumming's prose is luminous * i paper *
A superb tribute to the masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age, and the father who taught her how to see them ... In asking why we return to paintings across decades and centuries, this book taught me to see anew * Telegraph *
'Thunderclap combines first-rate art history with deeply felt memoir... and does what Fabritius's sibylline scenes do: it does not redescribe so much as reimagine' * The Washington Post *



Book Information
ISBN 9781784744526
Author Laura Cumming
Format Hardback
Page Count 272
Imprint Chatto & Windus
Publisher Vintage Publishing
Weight(grams) 640g
Dimensions(mm) 212mm * 154mm * 30mm

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