Painter to the King

Amy Sackville

Published: 4 April 2019
Paperback, B Format
ISBN: 9781783783922

Other Editions


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Published: 5 April 2018
Hardback, Demy HB
138x216mm, 336 pages
ISBN: 9781783783908

Ebook Available

About the author

Image of Amy Sackville

Amy Sackville was born in 1981. She studied English and Theatre Studies at Leeds, and went on to an MPhil in English at Exeter College, Oxford, and last year completed the MA in Creative & Life Writing at Goldsmiths. She is the author of The Still Point (which won the John Llewellyn Rhys award and was longlisted for the Orange Prize) and Orkney which won a Somerset Maugham Award. More about the author


Painter to the King took my breath away. In form and style it's a masterpiece; it should have won all the prizes going.’ Melissa Harrison



An authentic glimpse into the painter's methods... SuperbAntonia Senior


Working in luminous and meticulous prose, Sackville achieves an almost miraculous intimacy with her subject. Painter to the King is the most engrossing fictional study of visual art I have ever encountered, giving us not only a persuasive account of Velázquez's formation and milieu but a ravishing survey of the very substances and textures of his sensory world. It is, in its own right, an astonishing work of art’ Paraic O'Donnell

‘For some years now, Amy Sackville has been known for the exquisite quality of her prose. With her third novel, she has tried something different, something more audacious, perhaps, and proves more than equal to the challenge. A work of great subtlety and sophistication, Painter to the King is a surprisingly tender portrait of a genius Rupert Thomson

‘Intriguing and insightful...lyrical...a compelling read

‘It's an immersive and richly evocative imagining of a period, but also brilliantly inventive, and with a really seductive self-assurance to its voiceSelected by Daniel Hahn as a Book of the Year

‘Sackville - a talented stylist - [shows us] the world as Velázquez does... where tiny details are always as significant as the whole picture... RewardingClaire Allfree

‘Sackville triumphs... Stately, lush prose is interspersed with descriptions [and] Sackville uses language that is at once meticulous and rhapsodic’ Elizabeth Wassell

‘Sackville writes beautifully, imagining the court in painterly detail: its fashions, its stultifying formalities, its hierarchies and petty, poisonous rivalries. She has the art os weaving Velázquez's works [...] through the developing relationship, even friendship, of Diego and Felipe... Painter to the King is stately, [...] Sackville's summoning of time and place is exquisitely done’ Laura Freeman

‘Sackville's sumptuous verbal artistry both fills history's gaps, and offers via its kaleidoscopic language a response to the paintings' ever-shifting qualities... The novel flecks its pursuit of the artist, across paintings and documents, with the shimmer and dazzle of its rhapsodic prose’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Sackville's prose summons up the Spanish past in rich and appropriately visual detail’

‘Sackville's quick and lyrical style captures the heft and shape of seventeenth-century Spain without sacrificing lightness of touch, a quality she shares with Velázquez's’ Ben Eastham

‘Sackville's third novel is the most confident expression yet of her extraordinary gifts... an entirely immersive book...This is one of the finest historical novels of recent years’ Sarah Perry

‘The kind of novel that makes you fall in love with reading all over again: rich, kaleidoscopic, evocative and hugely moving. Painter to the King renders the past in intimate, exquisite, enthralling detail’ Alex Preston

‘Through Velazquez's eyes, we are shown the splendours and the miseries of Philip's life and court. We watch the unfolding of the artist's genius for depicting the physical reality of that world and its inhabitants. Sackville's prose summons up the Spanish past in rich and appropriately visual detail’ Nick Rennison

‘What especially thrills is Sackville's style, which revels in risk and play ... In Painter to the King Sackville has written not only by far the finest novel of its kind that I have ever read, but one of the finest historical novels of recent years. For her skill and daring, her grasp of both subject and form, and her masterly chiaroscuro of human failure and endeavour, she is as distinct among her peers as Velázquez was among his’ Sarah Perry

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