Andrew’s Books

The Author

Andrew Graham-Dixon has written a number of books about art and artists. His earliest book, Howard Hodgkin (1993), was the first monograph on one of the leading painters of today. It was followed by A History of British Art (1995), Paper Museum (1995), an anthology of articles published in the Independent, a book about the Renaissance (1999) and In the Picture (2005), an anthology of articles published between 2001 and 2006 in the Sunday Telegraph.

In the spring of 2007, Weidenfeld and Nicholson published Andrew's book entitled Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel, a major study of one of the world’s greatest works of art and its creator.

Andrew most recent book is a biography of Caravaggio. Published by Penguin Books in July 2010, it was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction and has recently been released in America, published by Norton.

How to get your own signed copies?

Andrew's latest book Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, is available in all good bookshops but if you would like your own signed copy, Andrew will be happy to oblige. He will even dedicate the book to your loved one of choice, so long as you let us know their name!

A signed and dedicated copy will set you back just £12 plus P&P.

Simply click on the Buy Book button next to the book you want and then you will be able to add any message and get a signed copy.

 Caravaggio - A Life Sacred and Profane

Caravaggio - A Life Sacred and Profane

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio lived the darkest and most dangerous life of any of the great painters. The worlds of Milan, Rome and Naples through which Caravaggio moved and which Andrew Graham-Dixon describes brilliantly in this book, are those of cardinals and whores, prayer and violence.

Andrew Graham-Dixon has spent a decade piecing together the scraps of evidence left of Caravaggio’s life and here he answers questions that have long puzzled scholars. He reveals the identities of the ordinary people – often prostitutes and the very poor – that Caravaggio used as models for his depictions of classic religious scenes; he describes what really happened during that fateful duel; and gives the most convincing account yet published of the extraordinary circumstances of Caravaggio’s death. At the heart of the book are Andrew Graham-Dixon’s readings of Caravaggio’s pictures; he shows how he created their drama, immediacy and humanity, and how completely he departed from the conventions of his time.


Caravaggio- A Life Sacred and Profane has been shortlisted for the Mash biography Award.

Caravaggio- A Life Sacred and Profane, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

‘Caravaggio' was in the Sunday Times Top Ten Non fiction best sellers list for three consecutive weeks when it was released.

Read Andrew’s recent self interview about his book Caravaggio on thenervousbreakdown website - Click here

To read a review in the Washington Times Click Here

Click here to read Andrew's interview on Caravaggio and connoisseurship on the art history website Threepipeproblem. 

Caravaggio is now out in paperback. To order a copy please click here.

Caravaggio was released in the USA on 8 September 2011, published by Norton.

Publisher: Penguin (July 2010)
Language English
ISBN-13: 978-0-713-99674-6
Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 4.8 cm

"Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane gave me immense pleasure and provided constant delight.It is a thrilling lesson in the art of seeing, a sensual exploration of the shadows of Caravaggio's sometimes violent but always Christian world, a detective story with a highly satisfying ending. Andrew Graham-Dixon's ability to have a reader see a painting through written language is a rare and precious gift. The book's rigour and integrity are obvious. I trusted every word and was sorry to turn the final page." 


''AG-D is a masterly art historian, not only steeped in his subject, but always alert, enthusiastic and contagiously curious......  This is what makes Graham-Dixon brilliant: he is able to look at a picture painted 400 years ago and extract from it all those meanings that have been obscured by time.''


''Graham-Dixon conveys the force of Caravaggio’s personality and the consequences of his art with a  brilliant grasp of detail.'' 


''There have been other biographies of Caravaggio, but Andrew Graham-Dixon’s has to be the one to read. Impressively knowledgeable and well written.''


''Mr Graham-Dixon concentrates on the drama of the paintings. He avoids jargon in his writing and is an entertaining art historian, as shown by his popular television series on Spanish and Russian art, and by his weekly art criticism. He took ten years to come to terms with a very obdurate and highly original painter. Time well spent.''  


''Graham-Dixon  writes expertly and eloquently about the paintings ..... but he is even better at bringing out the lurid detail of Caravaggio’s story.'' 


''As Graham-Dixon  dazzlingly illuminates , one can indeed understand a life through art-in this case a life that recreates a place in time-but astonishingly through his painting one might even see the world a little differently.''


Michelangelo And The Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo And The Sistine Chapel

Five hundred years ago the legendary Renaissance genius, Michelangelo (1475-1564), put the first brushstroke to his most ambitious creation. As he started work on his vast fresco cycle for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, in the autumn of 1508, he began putting into pictures the awe-inspiring legends recounted in the Book of Genesis. But for the viewer looking up into Michelangelo's painted sky, with its visions of an elemental universe, this was to be just the first of a series of unprecedentedly original images. These depictions of swooping, gesticulating, flying, muscular figures reach their climax in The Creation of Adam - a depiction of the very origins of Man that has been rightly celebrated, for centuries, as the quintessential masterpiece of the Renaissance. Yet the painting of the Sistine Chapel, for all its magnificence, came at a considerable human cost. It would take Michelangelo four years of long and bitter toil to complete his masterpiece, goaded all the while by his volatile, impatient patron, Julius II - known as the "Warrior Pope", in allusion both to his military conquests and aggressive temperament.

The two men came to blows on more than one occasion, the artist harbouring a lifelong grudge over the abuse of what his friend and biographer Giorgio Vasari called his "divine genius", not to mention the damage the labours caused to his eyes, neck and back. In his new study of Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel, Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the fascinating human story behind its creation. He analyses its many layers of meaning and teases out the multitude of ambiguities that lurk within its imagery of timeless magnificence. This is a retelling of the story of the Sistine Chapel for modern times, and an essential companion guide for one of the artistic wonders of the world.

Plus click here to watch Andrew's tour of the Sistine Chapel in his programme 'Travels with Vasari'.

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (3 April 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0297853651
ISBN-13: 978-0297853657
Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm

"an excellent introduction to the Sistine Chapel... Time and again while reading this book I found myself looking with fresh eyes at a detail of the ceiling, prompted by an arresting phrase or astute observation... This is art history at its best: clear, exciting, well-informed."


"unravels the aesthetic originality behind... familiar figures."


"an engaging and accessible introduction... the way he sets out this historical context, establishing for his readers the ongoing economic, social and political events that did so much to shape the building of the city and therefore the creation of a masterpiece... a model of understated scholarship packed into a convenient size - physically as well as intellectually - with good colour photography and all at a very reasonable price: what more can the general reader hope for."


"shows the best of what Graham-Dixon brings to his art criticism: an easy facility to convey the complex in lucid, simple terms."


"From first to last, it is crisply written in a prose which is both brisk and shapely... such a user guide to the brilliant particularities of the Sistine Chapel, aimed at the intelligent general reader, fills a gap in the market."


"Andrew Graham Dixon penetrates the many layers of meaning surrounding Michelangelo's rich images and allows us to glimpse something of the visions perceived by the artist himself. But more than this, he reveals Michelangelo the man - an achievement which ultimately proves even more rewarding."


In the Picture: The Year Through Art

In the Picture: The Year Through Art

Andrew Graham-Dixon's weekly column "In the Picture" in the "Sunday Telegraph" is one of the most regularly and widely read pieces of art criticism in Britain. This book takes 52 of the best of these articles, arranged through the seasons, festivals and anniversaries of the calendar, the provide a pictorial commentary on the year. Some of the pictures are well known: "Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase" by Vincent Van Gogh, "Flag" by Jasper Johns; Graham-Dixon helps us to see them freshly. But many are not: "Fish and Sandwich" by Patrick Caulfield, "The Beach at Trouville - The Empress Eugenie" by Eugene Boudin and "Atom Piece" by Henry Moore. The essays provided offer a short introduction to each.

Hardcover: 212 pages
Publisher: Allen Lane (6 Nov 2003)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0713996757
ISBN-13: 978-0713996753
Product Dimensions: 22 x 18 x 2 cm

"Art criticism taken to a new level - reading Graham-Dixon's prose, compared to that of more mundane, journeyman critics, is as exhilarating as watching Diego Maradona leave the entire England defence toiling in his wake."

– Toby Glanville

Howard Hodgkin

Howard Hodgkin

Howard Hodgkin is now being acknowledged as one of the great painters of modern times and one of the most inventive and original colourists of the 20th century. His paintings exist at the margin between representation and abstraction, bright mosaics shot through with hints and suggestions and glimmerings of recognisable form. They are intelligent objects, constantly in dialogue with the art of the past, but they wear their learning lightly. The cryptic intensity of Hodgkin's art stems from the artist's self-confessed desire to be true to his feelings, to embody his passions and fears, his aspirations and his anxieties, in the medium of oil paint. The humanity of his art is both touching and profound. Andrew Graham-Dixon's study of Hodgkin's work is written in a free and discursive spirit. It investigates Hodgkin's rich and complex art through its guiding themes and elucidates the passions and preoccupations that lie behind the paintings. Avoiding the chronological plod of many monographs, the book focuses on the essence of Hodgkin's paintings as the author explores their themes and strategies in great detail.

He examines Hodgkin's complex use of scale and colour, the nature of his pictorial language, the frequent eroticism of his art and the notions of time and of experience that it embodies - and finds a tension in the work between exuberance and melancholy. Graham-Dixon argues that Hodgkin is a classic modern painter, but in an old-fashioned sense; an artist who meets Baudelaire's call for "a painter of modern life". Hodgkin stands confirmed by this richly illustrated study as one of the most remarkable painters of human experience, an artist whose achievement is to have created equivalents, in painting, for the texture of memory itself. Andrew Graham-Dixon has been the art critic of "The Independent" since the newspaper was launched in 1986. He was voted BP Arts Journalist of the Year in 1988 and received the Hawthornden Prize for Art Criticism in 1992.

Hardcover: 232 pages
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; 2Rev Ed edition (Mar 2001)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0500092982
ISBN-13: 978-0500092989
Product Dimensions: 27.8 x 23.6 x 2.6 cm

"The first and best book about Howard Hodgkin's beguiling and brilliant paintings - the book that broke the ice and broke the silence. Every other author to write about Hodgkin will forever be in Graham-Dixon's debt."

– Bruce Bernard

"Graham-Dixon incisively characterises the generic qualities of Hodgkin's art, and offeres many interesting interpretations of individual pictures, reconnoitring pathways from title to image."

– Julian Bell, Times Literary Supplement

A History of British Art

A History of British Art

A History of British Art begins with the unpromising acknowledgment that "the British are a tribe of writers, not painters ... we have never been truly possessed of a native visual imagination." Graham-Dixon's book is an attempt to challenge these assumptions about British art and its history and he does so through a striking reassessment of the "tradition of anti-art, which dominated Britain for more than a century after the start of the Reformation". In tracing "the nation's love-hate relationship with art" and the recurrent "iconophobia" which has often literally done such damage to British art, Graham-Dixon offers a refreshing perspective on a surprisingly neglected topic.

Beginning with a consideration of what remains of a Catholic, pre-Reformation tradition in 15th-century English architecture and church art, Graham-Dixon reassesses the bad press accorded the Tudors. He offers illuminating accounts of the paradoxical embrace of Holbein and Van Dyck by the English court, Holbein in particular exemplifying English values of "common sense, precision, empiricism, determination, a capacity for inward reflection and a strong consciousness of responsibility." Hogarth, Gainsborough and Reynolds are celebrated as titans of the eighteenth century, while George Stubbs is hymned as one of the greatest painters ever to have lived. There are fine sections on the radical nature of Constable and Turner, the turn away from their innovations by the Victorians and the complex, often painful reception of modernism into the mainstream of 20th-century British art from Wyndham Lewis to Damien Hirst. Overall, this is an elegant and readable overview of British art.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; New Ed edition (1 Feb 2000)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0520223764
ISBN-13: 978-0520223769
Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 19 x 1.9 cm

"Graham-Dixon's account of this story is accurately and elegantly told... What is winning and very British is Graham-Dixon's gift for turning out memorable remarks in an understated style... He charms the reader to think, to look again and to rethink, above all to take seriously his central thesis that the British are a profoundly visual people."

– Timothy Wilson-Smith, The Tablet

"Ever since he began his thoughtful, carefully reasoned, beautifully written weekly page on visual art in the Independent, Andrew Graham-Dixon has been a source of great pleasure and enlightenment for a large and appreciative public, now vastly multiplied by TV. This man thinks along fresh and original lines and he's also a first-class writer. Graham-Dixon selects and plants his words with edgy refinement. He is incapable of cliche.

Art critics who write for the daily or weekly press fall into three categories. The well-informed, up-to-the-minute art journalist provides a useful, thorough and objective surbey of events in galleries and museums, describing and assessing strengths and weaknesses on a broad front. The more partisan critic is politically, socially or aesthetically committed to particular areas of interest or even a specific approach to art. The trouble here is that intellectual 'commitment' can degenerate fast into promotion and become a real bore - and even a tissue of distortions or half-truths, in which everything that isn't a socially or politically correct swan is a duck to be shot on sight...

As a critic, Graham-Dixon comes into a third category, exemplified in the US by Robert Hughes, whose astringent views on contemporary art and its attendant lunacies are so diverting to read in Time magazine and occasional books. This category consists of a small number of freely speculative, broadly cultivated and independent thinkers who can write well-constructed essays on a variety of subjects involving some original thinking...

These richly speculative and original essays on British art are full of good things..."

– Bryan Robertson, The Independent on Sunday

"It should get people arguing about - and perhaps even looking at - British art. Graham-Dixon has been billed as the new Kenneth Clark, but a more apt comparison would be with John Berger... What he has given us is a history of British art that looks at ashes as well as phoenixes."

- James Hall, Times Literary Supplement



The Renaissance was one of the great periods of creative and intellectual achievement. This age of genius, from its origins in the thirteenth century to its zenith in sixteenth-century Rome, produced some of the most dynamic and fascinating artists of all time - Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and Leonardo da Vinci. In his adventurous new book, lavishly illustrated with 125 colour illustrations, Andrew Graham-Dixon takes a fresh look at this most exciting period in art history, challenging many of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the Renaissance.

The Italian scholars who first dreamed of a Renaissance wished to revive the spirit of classical antiquity after the darkness - as they saw it - of the medieval and Byzantine periods. Graham-Dixon argues, however, that the Renaissance represented a culmination rather than rejection of those influences. Starting in the Middle Ages with the impact of the Franciscan movement on painting in Italy, Graham-Dixon's reappraisal of the Renaissance takes us through the key moments of its development, focusing on the major artists and architects of the time: the early Renaissance in Florence - Giotto, Masaccio, Donatello, and Brunelleschi; the Northern Renaissance - Durer, Cranach and Bruegel

Renaissance also outlines the historical context of of this time of great social as well asa artistic change - the power struggles between the Renaissance rulers of Italy's city-states, the French invasions of Italy, the Protestant Reformation, the rise of humanism, the invention of printing. All in all, this is the most thoguth-provoking and illuminating one-volume account of the Renaissance since the time of Jacob Burckhardt.


Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: BBC Books (21 Oct 1999)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0563383968
ISBN-13: 978-0563383963
Product Dimensions: 25.6 x 19.3 x 2.8 cm

"Renaissance reflects the intensely personal and passionate involvement of the author in his subject. In his analysis and his judgements, Graham-Dixon is original, daring, occasionally iconoclastic, and never dull or pedantic. The result is a book both more spirited and more accessible than Kenneth Clark's Civilisation".  

– Gene Brucker, author of Florence: The Golden Age

"The author identifies the origins of the Renaissance in a series of pious images inspired by St Francis of Assisi, who ennobled mankind by 'bringing Christ down to earth.' The incarnation happens all over again in Grham-Dixon's vivid commentaries."

– Peter Conrad

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