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Is love a mental illness?


The influence of World War I on John Singer Sargent's art
Brian Sewell Writer
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I think this is just the irony that the commentator has to pick out. I think it’s exceedingly unlikely that they were in any way prescient of the war that broke out in 1914, when painting things like that. No, this was just wonderful, rich, Edwardian, trouble-free, sun always shining, stuff. And then the war made a difference.

And it made a difference to somebody who, in the normal run of things, you wouldn’t think would be impacted by it. He’s American, not involved, has no family in it. No connections with it at all. He then goes off to really, right at the end of the war, and does… and that picture is constructed from innumerable drawings. Very, very good, sensitive drawings. And the drawings speak of pain. The wounded soldiers are… you know, they speak of pain.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: World War I, Gassed, John Singer Sargent

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: 2008

Date story went live: 28 June 2012