In The Sight of Death, a book about two paintings by Nicolas Poussin, T. J. Clark is interested by what is or looks like chance. There is the way that, through Poussin's handling of paint, 'a bagpiper's complex stoop and stride' (for instance) seem to have been 'nudged out of a cluster of tiny flat dabs of the brush, which just happened eventually to cohere'. The Sight of Death gives as much attention to its author's serendipity as to Poussin's: this is art criticism as auto-analysis. Clark recognizes the almost verbal clarity with which the painting projects a narrative: 'Poussin was a discursive artist, obviously'. Yet his emphasis is throughout on its countervailing, and — as he takes it — redemptive, wordless formal harmony. Clark's own way with words, his chatty diaristic style, is attractive despite occasional moments of preening.