At a loose end in Liverpool, a city which looks as if it has barely survived a protracted civil war, and much of whose population looks as if it survives by means of grudging charitable donations (which in effect it does, since considerably more than half of its population of working age is employed in the public sector, or unemployed, or chronically sick), I went into the Walker Art Gallery. Like most provincial British art galleries, the Walker has a vast collection of Victorian art better assessed in terms of acreage than in those of quality (as well as many fine pictures from other epochs). A brief visit to the gallery provides the best, and almost unanswerable, argument for modernism. Never was such artistic earnestness so indissolubly welded to such shocking bad taste.

Compared with Benjamin Haydon, however, even Lord Leighton himself seems to have been a subtle, delicate, and exquisite miniaturis ...