Edgar Wind (1900-1971) became a celebrity of sorts at the age of sixty, with a series of BBC talks called “Art and Anarchy.” The book that followed was eventually translated into six languages, and individual talks even appeared in L’Oeil and The Saturday Evening Post. Wind never enjoyed the kind of fame that Kenneth Clark or Jacob Bronowski achieved with their later series; Wind’s talks were on the radio, not television, and they could not convey that pleasant extension-course feeling of being helped to a big piece of culture. But they had more bite. Although too intricate to follow with ease, they did seem to present an Oxford don with a middle European accent, yet with a graceful English style, endorsing the view that modern art was decadent.

In Wind’s own world of art-historical scholarship he had of course long been a presence. Rudolf Wittkower, his closest colleague in the...


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