James Boswell: Unofficial War Artist

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Muswell Press, 2007 - Art - 136 pages
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This book is part of the centenary celebration of James Boswell's (1906-1971) birth. His work is being honoured by displays at Tate Britain, the Prints and Drawings Gallery at the British Museum and a one man retrospective at Square One Gallery, London. One of its most salient features is a remarkably prophetic set of anti-war satirical drawings done during Boswell's 1943 posting to Iraq. Richard Cork has said of these, 'I know of no parallel in English art for Boswell's ability to expose and denigrate the senseless waste of a conflict which official war artists approached with such muted emotions. Their relevance to today's conflict is poignant'. Boswell, a New Zealander who came to England in 1925 to study painting, was soon involved in the radical movement of the Left and became, throughout the thirties, its most vibrant artist with fierce satirical drawings that appeared in Left Review, of which he was Art Editor, Our Time, The Daily Worker and other left wing publications. He was also a

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About the author (2007)

James Boswell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1740 of an old and honored family. As a young man, Boswell was ambitious to have a literary career but reluctantly obeying the wishes of his father, a Scottish Judge, he followed a career in the law. He was admitted to the Scottish bar in 1766. However, his legal practice did not prevent him from writing a series of periodical essays, The Hypochondriac (1777-83), and his Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1785), was an account of the journey to the outer islands of Scotland undertaken with Samuel Johnson in 1773. In addition, Boswell wrote the impulsively frank Journals, private papers lost to history until they were discovered by modern scholars and issued in a multivolume set. Known during much of his life as Corsican Boswell for his authorship of An Account of Corsica in 1768, his first considerable work, Boswell now bears a name that is synonymous with biographer. The reason rests in the achievement of his Life of Samuel Johnson published in 1791, seven years after the death of Johnson. Boswell recorded in his diary the anxiety of the long-awaited encounter with Johnson, on May 16, 1763, in the back parlor of a London bookstore, and upon their first meeting he began collecting Johnson's conversations and opinions. Johnson was a daunting subject for a biographer, in part because of his extraordinary, outsized presence and, in part because Johnson himself was a pioneer in the art of literary biography. Boswell met the challenge by taking an anecdotal, year-by-year approach to the wealth of biographical material he gathered. Boswell died in 1795.

William Feaver is a painter, critic, writer, and curator. He is the author of Freud's previous exhibition catalogue, "Lucian Freud" (Tate, 2002). He has curated the following exhibitions: Lucian Freud (2002 Tate and tour), Freud (2005 Museo Correr, Venice), and Freud & Auerbach (2006 V&A).

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