Mist and Fog in British and European Painting: Fuseli, Friedrich, Turner, Monet and their Contemporaries, by Evan R. Firestone (Lund Humphries): “Unreal City,/ Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,/ A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,/ I had not thought death had undone so many.” So begins the last stanza of the first section of Eliot’s The Waste Land. But it was not just twentieth-century poets who found artistic inspiration in the meteorological phenomenon we call fog. As Evan R. Firestone demonstrates in Mist and Fog in British and European Painting, fog became a preoccupation for artists of the nineteenth century, who were struck by both natural vaporous phenomena and the brumous effects of industrialization. Here is a study that impresses for its specificity and the quality of its production. —BR
The Drawings of Vincent van Gogh, by Christopher Lloyd (Thames & Hudson): Writing to his brother, Theo, from London in 1874, Vincent van Gogh noted, “I’ve been drawing again recently, but it is nothing special.” In another letter from a few years later, he complained, “My passion for drawing has again vanished here in England, but maybe inspiration will strike again one day.” Later, in a letter from 1882, he wrote, “Drawing is the most important thing, no matter what they say, and far and away the most difficult.” A wrestling with the line was a central feature of the artist’s career, and Christopher Lloyd’s The Drawings of Vincent van Gogh traces this struggle and triumph. Lloyd’s work makes clear that Van Gogh’s liberated line is just as essential as his exhilarating color, and the selection of works reproduced provides exciting insight into the artist’s development. —LL
Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano), Lisa Batiashvili (violin) & Gautier Capuçon (cello) at Carnegie Hall (October 24): Much star power will be assembled on Tuesday night as the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the violinist Lisa Batiashvili, and the cellist Gautier Capuçon complete the last date of a nine-city tour on the main stage of Carnegie Hall. On the docket are three piano trios, including Ravel’s famous Trio in A Minor, composed at the start of World War I. Ravel began this piece in a seaside village near his birthplace in French Basque country, drawing upon motifs and flavors from his heritage there (he was half Basque through his mother). This adventurous, spacious chamber work will be played alongside Haydn’s Piano Trio No. 44 in E Major and Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor. —IS
Quartetto di Cremona at Carnegie Hall (October 26): As the weather turns cold in New York, it seems the right time to turn inwards and indoors to the intimate joys of chamber music. This is quite the week for it: last Sunday, the Emerson Quartet bade farewell at Lincoln Center in its final concert as an ensemble. For those mourning the departure of one of the world’s preeminent quartets, a trip to Weill Hall at Carnegie might be in order this Thursday to hear the Quartetto di Cremona, hailing from that capital of lutherie in Lombardy. The group will offer quite the consolation: along with Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade and Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Beethoven’s exquisite late String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132. Its middle movement—the “Heiliger Dankgesang” (“Holy Song of Thanksgiving”)—might be the most beautiful movement in the chamber repertoire, alternating between Beethoven’s celebration of a second lease on life after an illness and a mystical approach toward the eternal in the ethereal Lydian mode. —IS
James Panero, Adam Simon & Luke Sheahan on Old House of Fear, by Russell Kirk (Criterion Books): Have no fear of the Old House of Fear. This Wednesday at 7 p.m. eastern, The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal will host an online Book Gallery on Kirk’s best-selling 1961 novel. James Panero, who wrote the introduction for the new edition published by Criterion Books, will join the screenwriter Adam Simon and Luke Sheahan of The University Bookman to discuss this thriller set in the Outer Hebrides and what the novel reveals about Kirk’s life and work. Free with registration.
“Ballet is woman,” by Julia Friedman. On The Rite, choreographed by Lincoln Jones and performed by American Contemporary Ballet.
From the Archives:
“Augustus & the birth of the West,” by Michael Auslin (December 2014). Is Augustus still relevant 2000 years after his death?
“Edward Gibbon & the Enlightenment,” by Keith Windschuttle (June 1997). On The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon.