The Artist and the Warrior: Military History through the Eyes of the Masters

The Artist and the Warrior: Military History through the Eyes of the Masters

by Theodore K. Rabb
     
 

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How have artists across the millennia responded to warfare? In this uniquely wide-ranging book, Theodore Rabb blends military history and the history of art to search for the answers. He draws our attention to masterpieces from the ancient world to the twentieth century—paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, engravings, architecture, and

Overview

How have artists across the millennia responded to warfare? In this uniquely wide-ranging book, Theodore Rabb blends military history and the history of art to search for the answers. He draws our attention to masterpieces from the ancient world to the twentieth century—paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, engravings, architecture, and photographs—and documents the evolving nature of warfare as artists have perceived it. 

The selected works represent landmarks in the history of art and are drawn mainly from the western tradition, though important examples from Japan, India, and the Middle East are also brought into the discussion. Together these works tell a story of long centuries during which warfare inspired admiration and celebration. Yet a shift toward criticism and condemnation emerged in the Renaissance, and by the end of the nineteenth century, glorification of the warrior by leading artists had ceased. Rabb traces this progression, from such works as the Column of Trajan and the Titian "Battle of Lepanto", whose makers celebrated glorious victories, to the antiwar depictions created by Brueghel, Goya, Picasso, and others. Richly illustrated and accessibly written, this book presents a study of unprecedented sweep and multidisciplinary interest.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Using two- and three-dimensional artwork from the ancient world through the 20th century and drawing mainly from Western traditions, Rabb (history, emeritus, Princeton Univ.; Renaissance Lives: Portraits of an Age) presents a broad survey of artists' ever-changing views of warfare, probing the purpose and meaning behind the objects and images they create. In explaining artistic responses to war, Rabb chooses examples that are "remarkable artistic achievements" and representative of their time. For example, Trajan's Column represents the empire building of the Roman Empire, and Donatello's equestrian statue of Gattamelata represents early Renaissance Italy. The misery of war is represented by Pieter Brueghel's Blind Leading the Blind (1568) and a scene from the ceiling of Versailles's Hall of Mirrors, Charles Le Brun's The Decision to Make War on the Dutch (1670). Because this reviewer saw only an advance proof, no comment can be made on the quality of the 60 black-and-white and 40 color illustrations. VERDICT This book does not address questions of artistic theory or how warfare affects visual culture, the viewer, or the production of art. With its easily read text, it is suitable for art and history students and interested general readers.—Nancy Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300126372
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Theodore Rabb is emeritus professor of history, Princeton University. A historian of early modern Europe, he has published many books during his career and has contributed major reviews in history and art to the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, and numerous other journals. He lives in Princeton, NJ.

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