Children of Mercury: The Lives of the Painters (Hardcover)

Children of Mercury: The Lives of the Painters By Spike Bucklow Cover Image

Children of Mercury: The Lives of the Painters (Hardcover)


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Following “the seven ages of man” from infancy to death, an innovative retelling of the lives of premodern painters both famous and forgotten.
Children of Mercury is a bold new account of the lives of premodern painters, viewed through the lens of “the seven ages of man,” a widespread belief made famous in the “All the world’s a stage” speech in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Spike Bucklow follows artists’ lives from infancy through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, to maturity, old age, and death. He tracks how lives unfolded for both male and female painters, from the famous, like Michelangelo, through Artemisia Gentileschi and Mary Beale, to those who are now forgotten, like Jehan Gillemer. The book draws on historic biographies, the artists’ writings, and, uniquely, the physical evidence offered by their paintings.
Spike Bucklow is professor of material culture and a conservation scientist at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books on artists’ materials and methods, including The Alchemy of Paint.
Product Details ISBN: 9781789145236
ISBN-10: 1789145236
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: July 6th, 2022
Pages: 224
“Bucklow offers a deeply humane poetics of the life-cycle and artistic creativity that is enchanting and original. This beautifully written book is an enormously rewarding read for anyone interested in art history.”
— Ulinka Rublack, FBA, professor of early modern European History, University of Cambridge

“While there have been studies of prodigies and of aging artists, Bucklow's book is distinctive in looking systematically at the periods in between. It also stands out within this literature for devoting real attention to women as well as men.”
— Michael Cole, Howard McP. Davis Professor and chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University

"Beginning with Vasari, many have written about lives of painters. But Bucklow may be the first to write about painters’ down time—who they were before they were famous, and after they retired: their whole lives. His book paints hundreds of lively vignettes in the reader’s mind. He’s a Vasari for the twenty-first century."
— Kathryn M. Rudy, professor of art history, University of St Andrews