Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters
Beckford's first published book - Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary
Painters (1780) - is a satire. In five biographical sketches of
varying length, painters and artists as well as schools of painterly
taste, are explored through means of fictitious and historical characters
and places. Not one of Beckford's heavier works, the Memoirs is
instead memorable for its lightness of touch and for the poetic descriptions
of landscapes and paintings which it contains.
on in life, Beckford amassed an impressive collection of paintings
(today, some twenty of these may, for instance, be viewed at the National
Gallery in London: works by Cima,
- amongst others - stand out as spectacular examples not only of his
taste but also of his considerable buying power). In the 1770's and
very early 1780's, however, the time in which the Memoirs was
composed and published, Beckford's home environment was defined by
the art collections gathered by his father: the two Beckfords eventually
came to share few, if any, artistic tastes.
use the links below to continue on to this online edition of the Memoirs.
As this book has been scanned using OCR, errors have no doubt
survived; the edition should be used as a rough study-aid only and
the printed editions consulted whenever a quotation is needed.