James L. Yarnall, Salve Regina University, USA

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£58.50, Regular price: £65.00

Imprint: Ashgate
Illustrations: Includes 32 colour and 104 b&w illustrations
Published: February 2012
Format: 244 x 172 mm
Extent: 384 pages
Binding: Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-4094-1172-7
ISBN Short: 9781409411727
BL Reference: 709.2-dc22
LoC Control No: 2011024567

Posted 10 October 2013

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John La Farge, A Biographical and Critical Study is the first biography in a century of the American painter, illustrator, muralist, stained-glass artist, and writer. Examining La Farge's career from his youth to his late rebound as a decorative artist–from New York City and New England to Europe to Japan to the South Seas–this is also the only biography to date composed independently of the artist and his estate. Drawing on primary documentation culled from archives and contemporary newspapers and journals, the biography thoroughly documents La Farge's career and artwork. Earlier biographies avoided the darker aspects of his complex and conflicted life, which had dramatic effects on his work. The study also offers critical analysis of the artist's works, showing influences from other artists and giving contemporary and modern responses. La Farge authority James L. Yarnall scrutinizes how posterity has viewed the artist throughout the century since his death. The book is copiously illustrated with black-and-white and color images.

Preface; Introduction; A dilettante, 1835–1855; European Wanderjahr, 1856–1857; The Newport period, 1859–1873; Early decorative work, 1873–1885; Japan, 1886; A new start, 1887–1890; The South Seas, 1890–1891; International fame, 1892–1900; A career ends, 1900–1910; The written word; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author: James L. Yarnall is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, where he teaches the history of art and architecture. He is also Editor of Publications for the Newport Historical Society, including its journal, Newport History.

Reviews: '… this book will stand as the definitive biographical source on La Farge for many years to come. What is more, it provides a sturdier foundation for the interpretive treatment of the art of this intriguing figure, which still remains to be done.' The Burlington Magazine 'Yarnall has published more on La Farge than any other scholar, living or dead, including four monographs on his paintings and dozens of articles. He is noted for his careful and thorough scholarship and engaging style, and this book does not disappoint… The strength of Yarnall’s telling of this compelling and complicated story of a talented though deeply flawed person is almost invisible: it is the depth of his research. The ease of his flowing and succinct prose, free from hyperbole and sentimentality, belies the years of digging into published and unpublished resources, letters, legal documents, diaries, and contracts in libraries and archives around the world.' Journal of Stained Glass

After having seen most of the stained glass windows of La Farge in Boston, this book finally gives answers to all my questions that remained regarding his life, development of technique, his patent war with Louis Comfort Tiffany, his glass-making and the types of glass he used. The text reads very pleasantly despite the many facts, dates and names, and it sketches the time and atmosphere around La Farge. A very good starting point to first read before visiting the USA and seeing his windows, harnessed with knowledge to investigate the glass and working processes and to study the different surprising techniques. With good photos, drawings, paintings and studies, the book invites you to visit more of La Farge’s work. John La Farge, A Biographical and Critical Study is a must for every student to learn how important a serious education and practise in drawing and painting is.
Angela van der Burght

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