What has the National Portrait Gallerys Nicholas Cullinan been reading this summer?

Nicholas Cullinan Zoe Law

“This summer, Im planning some serious time reading Hilary Mantel”

Wolf Hall (2009) by Hilary Mantel and How to Write Like Tolstoy (2016) by Richard Cohen

“One of the main pleasures of a summer holiday is having proper time to read novels—whole days absorbed in a book, rather than just a few pages before bedtime. This summer, Im planning some serious time reading Hilary Mantel. I wish I were one of those people who only has to read the third and final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, published earlier this year, but the shameful truth is that I have a bit of Mantel mountain to climb, starting with the first book, Wolf Hall. As an aside, Mantel has also led me to Richard Cohens How to Write Like Tolstoy. Im not getting my hopes up, but his fascinating book is as much about being a good reader as a great writer.”

Black and British: A Forgotten History (2016) by David Olusoga and Black Tudors: The Untold Story (2017) by Miranda Kaufmann

“History is a process, not a locked box as Hilary Mantel says, and this phrase has been resonating with me as I do some busmans holiday reading thinking about the redisplay of the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Rereading two books in relation to this has been especially enlightening in recent weeks—David Olusogas magisterial Black and British: A Forgotten History, and Miranda Kaufmanns Black Tudors, which rethinks Tudor history by examining the overlooked black presence in Britain.”

Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion (2007) by Philippe Alain-Michaud

Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, a collaborative project this autumn between Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Warburg Institute in London, reconstructs for the first time, all 63 panels of Warburgs unfinished and panoramic Mnemosyne Atlas from 1925-29. [The atlas] obsessively plotted what he called Pathosformel (pathos formula), essentially a typological study of emotion, via a vast montage of bodies in motion from antiquity and its afterlives. The accompanying publication is far too hefty to take on holiday, so instead Ill be rereading Philippe Alain-Michauds excellent Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion.”

The Lives of Lucian Freud: Youth 1922-1968 (2019) by William Feaver, Sontag: Her Life and Work (2019) by Benjamin Moser and Warhol: A Life as Art (2020) by Blake Gopnik

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