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Brian Sewell (1931-2015), art critic and peregrino

2020 Camino Guides
S

Satírico

Guest
I'm sure I am not the only peregrino to be saddened by the news of the passing of English art critic Brian Sewell, scourge of contemporary "art" and past participant of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Not so long ago, I contributed a thread talking about camino consciousness, when and how we first heard of the road to St James. My earliest source, as far as I know today, was Brian's humorous series The Naked Pilgrim (c.2004). He retraced the camino that he made some 30 years earlier, but latterly in a Mercedes, starting in Paris and taking in Chartres, Poitiers, Orleans, Lourdes, Bordeaux, Roncesvalles, Bilbao, Burgos, Fromista, Léon, and finally riding into Santiago on horseback. Along the way Brian takes (you can get the DVD) pot shots or heaps praise on cathedral architecture, keeps a diary of his spirits as they wax and wane, gets pie-eyed on claret and has his soul flayed by the pilgrims he meets and who challenge his boozy, skeptical view of things. To the casual observer, Brian Sewell might have appeared as a reactionary snob, but a cherished memory is his contribution to a tv show undercutting the pretensions of just such people, and the camino travelogue reveals an emotional man with an unforgettable voice, somewhere between courtier and children's teddy bear.

A real character. The world is a poorer place without him. R.I.P.
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
I've been keeping an eye out for 'The Naked Pilgrim' among the repeats channels for years, and I've still never seen it. Although My knowledge of art is broadly comparable with my grasp of quantum mechanics, someone with as much passion for his subject (and strong opinions) as Brian Sewell would undoubtedly make it well worth watching...and shame me for all the cultural treasures I've casually walked past without knowing! RIP peregrino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013....2014....2015.......2017...2018...2019
I've been keeping an eye out for 'The Naked Pilgrim' among the repeats channels for years, and I've still never seen it. Although My knowledge of art is broadly comparable with my grasp of quantum mechanics, someone with as much passion for his subject (and strong opinions) as Brian Sewell would undoubtedly make it well worth watching...and shame me for all the cultural treasures I've casually walked past without knowing! RIP peregrino.
R.I.P.Brian. You can get his DVD of The naked Pilgrim from Amazon.
 
S

Satírico

Guest
I've been keeping an eye out for 'The Naked Pilgrim' among the repeats channels for years, and I've still never seen it. Although My knowledge of art is broadly comparable with my grasp of quantum mechanics, someone with as much passion for his subject (and strong opinions) as Brian Sewell would undoubtedly make it well worth watching...and shame me for all the cultural treasures I've casually walked past without knowing! RIP peregrino.
No shame, brother. I remember thinking that it would take a year to fully appreciate the cathedral in Burgos. Let's not forget all those churches which remain stubbornly closed in the morning or later. I'll brush up my Spanish and maybe next time prevail on someone to open these locked doors.
Good weekend!
 
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SdeC: Oct 2011; SJPP-Leon, Oct 14; Tomar (PO)/SJPP Oct 15
He was a great connoisseur by nature and thus a most perceptive art critic, which I think would have led him, much earlier than most, to investigate the camino. His TV series was a delight. His apparent snobbery and extraordinary accent served only to disguise his love of all that comes through God's creation. I shall miss the insights of this much maligned man.
 
D

Deleted member 36903

Guest
RIP Brian.
I agree with all the above comments. While he lost his faith he never forgot what it was to believe.
For those who may now watch the DVD 'The Naked Pilgrim' and feel puzzled by some of the shots, it might be worth noting that it was filmed in reverse. i.e. from Santiago back to France so the shooting schedule could film his arrival at SDC at the time of what I think was a holy year. Perhaps other members of the forum can clarify.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
I agree a wonderful series - far too short! One of the standout memories for me is his conversation with two ladies in the street in Lourdes (from Hartlepool), (who offered to light a candle for him, and ask him 'Are you famous? Are you Elvis?') and his reflection on Lourdes as a place of pilgrimage, and his bittersweet recollection of 'the faith he used to share.' A very beautiful piece of television.
I am in Scotland today and just watched it again here.... @tyrrek @bystander
http://www.theage.com.au/tv/Travel/show/The-Naked-Pilgrim/Bordeaux-Poitiers-and-Lourdes-5000149.html
It appears the other episodes are there too.
Yes it says you have to be in Australia, but I will just mention www.hola.org and leave it to your discretion!!
 
Last edited:
S

Satírico

Guest
RIP Brian.
I agree with all the above comments. While he lost his faith he never forgot what it was to believe.
For those who may now watch the DVD 'The Naked Pilgrim' and feel puzzled by some of the shots, it might be worth noting that it was filmed in reverse. i.e. from Santiago back to France so the shooting schedule could film his arrival at SDC at the time of what I think was a holy year. Perhaps other members of the forum can clarify.
Dear Seb, I wasn't puzzled by anything until I read your post. Are you saying the images of him driving are all going backwards to France? This is very disconcerting, even if he was coasting along in a car.
 

bystander

Veteran Member
Here in the UK - DVD "currently unavailable" on ebay.co.uk
and on Amazon.co.uk - Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available.
Brian Sewell, great art critic, great acerbic wit who knew what the Emperor's new clothes weren't!
When asked what he thought of the Queen Mother's Memorial Gates in Hyde Park, London one word sufficed "ghastly".
Spot on.
RIP
 

SafariGirl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Vía de la Plata, Primitivo, Norte, Lebaniego & Vadiniense,
Aragonés
For anyone reading this post not familiar with the Naked Pilgrim programme, there's a 4-minute taster posted on Youtube by Ken Kelly. As a lapsed Catholic and professed agnostic myself, it touched something in me...
 
S

Satírico

Guest
Here in the UK - DVD "currently unavailable" on ebay.co.uk
and on Amazon.co.uk - Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available.
Brian Sewell, great art critic, great acerbic wit who knew what the Emperor's new clothes weren't!
When asked what he thought of the Queen Mother's Memorial Gates in Hyde Park, London one word sufficed "ghastly".
Spot on.
RIP
UK-based pilgrims with London access could always borrow the DVD from the Confraternity of St James.
 
S

Satírico

Guest
For anyone reading this post not familiar with the Naked Pilgrim programme, there's a 4-minute taster posted on Youtube by Ken Kelly. As a lapsed Catholic and professed agnostic myself, it touched something in me...
Indeed. Watching the longer series about the 18th century Grand Tour, you sense Brian's much more comfortable with art and carnal knowledge than pilgrim menus. Fascinating and funny.
 
D

Deleted member 36903

Guest
Indeed. Watching the longer series about the 18th century Grand Tour, you sense Brian's much more comfortable with art and carnal knowledge than pilgrim menus. Fascinating and funny.
Dear Seb, I wasn't puzzled by anything until I read your post. Are you saying the images of him driving are all going backwards to France? This is very disconcerting, even if he was coasting along in a car.
Yes indeed, art and carnal knowledge are also central to his second volume of autobiography, and I am sure (I don'y have a copy but a friend who read this told me) that in that book he discusses the making of The Naked Pilgrim and explains why it was filmed out of sequence, so to speak. The friend had always been puzzled why the sea was on the wrong side in the programme.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Brian Sewell - the only person who could make Queen Elizabeth sound common!

Brilliant art critic - I wonder what will become of the workman's glove from the ruins of Guernica?
 

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