Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Brief History of Painting

Author: Roy Bolton
Published: 2006

Publisher: Magpie Books

This is a sort of guidebook on 4000 years of paintings (mainly of the Western World) written by an art expert associated with Christie's.

It is a very good introduction to the history of paintings.

The book begins with an introductory essay called "The Inner Life of Painting" by Matthew Collings (an art critic). Here he gives tips on how to develop an appreciation for a painting.

This is followed by eight chapters covering - the paintings of the ancient world, the Italian Renaissance, the Northern Europe Renaissance, paintings of the seventeenth century, Rococo and Neo-Classicism, Romanticism and Pre-Raphaelites, Impressionism and Post Impressionism, Modernisn and the Contemporary Art.150 representative paintings are selected from different traditions and arranged chronologically in these chapters.

Each chapter has a summary at the beginning which describes how some of the historical events influenced the art of some well-known artists of that period.
The paintings selected as representative samples are mostly shown as full-page photographs on the odd numbered page (right page of an open book). They are accompanied by a brief guide to the painting and a short biography of the artist on the even numbered page (left page of the open book). Such an arrangement makes it easy for the reader to examine the painting while he reads the accompanying guide. However I wish the size of the book was slightly larger (this was a pocket-size edition) so that the details of the paintings were more visible.

After these chapters there is a pictorial timeline which locates artists and art movements in relation to one another in time. The book concludes with recommendations for further readings and a glossary which explains art terms and art movements.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested to develop appreciation of paintings.

I had borrowed this book from the British Library, and while reading it I discovered to my horror that some pages had been torn off, obviously by the previous borrower (s). I wonder how people who have an aesthetic sense in art stoop down to such deplorable acts. This clearly demonstrates their lack of aesthetic sense as far as their morals and ethics are concerned.

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