LETTER:Standing in the shadows of art

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The Independent Online
From Ms Caroline Hull

Sir: Andrew Graham-Dixon accuses Sir Ernst Gombrich's "Shadows" exhibition of being a "series of rather flat observations about the representation of reality in painting". Mr Graham-Dixon misunderstands what Gombrich sets out to do.

Gombrich's style is designed to give rise to new perceptions and ideas in his readers. It is Graham-Dixon's rage for complete description and closure, and not Gombrich's open-ended musing, that risks falling

As Neil MacGregor says, in his introduction to "Shadows",

many of us have ... put down a Gombrich essay believing that we had been on the verge of that very insight.

This is what has happened to Mr Graham-Dixon and, far from being "left in the dark", he has produced a very creditable commentary on Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus. But to look at the Caravaggio in terms of the play of illumination and shadow, was not Mr Graham-Dixon's idea. It was Sir Ernst Gombrich's.

Yours faithfully,

CAROLINE HULL

Cambridge

23 May

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