New Book | The Artist’s Studio

Posted in books by Editor on March 31, 2023

From Thames & Hudson:

James Hall, The Artist’s Studio: A Cultural History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2023), 288 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0500021712, $40.

book coverA revealing chronicle and visual history of the artist’s studio, examining the myth and reality of the creative space from early times to the present day.

The artist’s workplace has always been an idealized utopia as well as the domain of dirty, backbreaking work. Written descriptions, paintings, prints, and even photographs of the artist’s atelier distort as much as they document. This illuminating cultural history of the artist’s studio charts the myth and reality of the creative space from ancient Greece to the present.

Tracing a history that extends far beyond the bohemian, romantic, and renaissance cults of the artist, each chapter focuses on key developments of the studio space as seen in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar images. Mythical and divine makers and some amateurs are included, alongside craftspeople―potters, illuminators, weavers, embroiderers, and architects―along with artists such as Artemisia Gentileschi, Claude Monet, Michelangelo, Rosa Bonheur, and Diego Rivera. Each carefully chosen example places the studio within a cultural and political context, with the aim of correcting the historical imbalance that has distorted the picture by leaving out the many artisans who collaborated with artists. Leading authority James Hall also extends the discussion to the artist’s museum and the artist’s house, as well as the development of portable studios, with sections on ‘plein air’ painting and drawing in the East. Visually appealing, featuring images of the artist’s studio from around the world, this compelling, eye-opening history identifies key studios, individuals, trends, and turning points in the history of the creative space.

James Hall is an art critic, historian, lecturer, and broadcaster. He was formerly chief art critic for the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He contributes to The Guardian Saturday Review, The Times, and Times Literary Supplement, as well as well as to magazines and catalogues. He is the author of several books, including The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History.


1  Luxury and Lameness: The Shield of Achilles
2  Wisdom’s Workshop: Simon the Shoemaker
3  Struggles in the Scriptorium: Waging War on Dead Skin
4  Pure Gold: Doing God’s (or the Devil’s) Work
5  The Velvet Revolution: Cennini’s Studietto
6  Piety and Pretentiousness: Saint Luke Paints the Virgin
7  ‘Always Keeping Paper in His Hand’: A School for Art and Scandal
8  In and Out of the Comfort Zone: Leonardo versus Michelangelo
9  Creatures of the Night: ‘Only the Dark Serves to Plant Man’
10  Making a Spectacle: The Systematic Studio
11  Mirroring the Process: Velázquez to Reynolds
12  Women in the Studio: Inspiration, Destitution, Cleaning, Crimes of Passion
13  Chaste Space: Friedrich to Mondrian
14  Eliminating Easels: Workshop and Factory
15  Inside / Outside: Studios for Nomads

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