Exeter alumna Amy Sackville (2002, English Studies) has published her third novel, Painter to the King. The book, released by Granta Books in April, is a portrait of Diego Velazquez, from his arrival at the court of King Philip IV of Spain, to his death 38 years and scores of paintings later. It is a portrait of a relationship that is not quite a friendship, between an artist and his subject. It is a portrait of a ruler, always on duty, and increasingly burdened by a life of public expectation and repeated private grief, and it is a portrait of a court collapsing under the weight of its own excess.
Writing in The Guardian, author Sarah Perry described Painter to the King as ‘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’. Novelist Paraic O’Donnell praised Ms Sackville for achieving ‘an almost miraculous intimacy with her subject’ and described Painter to the King as ‘the most engrossing fictional study of visual art I have ever encountered’.
In 2010 Ms Sackville published her debut novel, The Still Point, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and in 2013 she published her second novel, Orkney.