The Story of Art - 16th Edition / Edition 16

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The Story of Art, one of the most famous and popular books on art ever written, has been a world bestseller for over half a century. Attracted by the simplicity and clarity of his writing, readers of all ages and backgrounds have found in Professor Gombrich a true master, who combines knowledge and wisdom with a unique gift for communicating his deep love of the subject.

For this new, compact edition The Story of Art has been completely redesigned, giving a fresh perspective to Gombrich's well-loved text. The illustrations, collected together in a separate section towards the back of the book for easy reference, vividly illustrate the lively and engaging narrative and are in colour throughout.

The Story of Art has always been admired for two key qualities: it is a pleasure to read and a pleasure to handle. In these respects the pocket edition is no exception, combining smoothly flowing text with a clear, simple design in a convenient and accessible format. The new edition allows this classic work to continue its triumphant progress for another generation, and to remain the title of first choice for all newcomers to art.

The most famous and popular book on art ever published, this quintessential "introduction to art" has been a worldwide bestseller for over four decades. In this completely redesigned 16th edition, Gombrich, a true master, combines knowledge and wisdom with a unique gift for communicating his deep love of the subject. 440 illustrations, 376 in color.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The simplicity and clarity of the text (written by a great historian) makes this classic work the ideal introduction for newcomers to art history. With color illustrations throughout, it is a pleasure to read and a pleasure to handle.
Library Journal
Phaidon Press has produced a much-improved edition of Sir Ernst Gombrich's classic narrative study of art history, which was first published in 1950. Among the many competing introductory textsthe central monuments of which are H.W. Janson's History of Art (Prentice, 1986. 4th. ed.) and Helen Gardner's Art Through the Ages (4th ed. o.p.)Gombrich's venerable work has inhabited a unique niche, having been created specifically for newcomers to art. As his title indicates, he presents the whole of art history as a chronological narrative. Gombrich's voice is lively, opinionated, and almost conversational, yet his erudition shines through to make a book that is both accessible and informative. His premise, that the love of art, not the love of history, is the appropriate basis for its study is communicated directly with his irrepressible enthusiasm for certain masters and his passionate exasperation with 20th century nonobjective artists. While much of the text is unchanged, the format has been completely redesigned with vastly expanded illustrations, improved captions, better charts and an excellent index. This book belongs on every art-lover's bedside table, and even those libraries owning an earlier edition would not regret adding this refinement of an already first-rate work. Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Donna Seaman
Gombrich's The Story of Art has been a treasured standard in the field, selling more than 4 million copies since its first edition in 1950. Now in its 16th edition and available for the first time in paperback, this comprehensive look at Western art from prehistoric times on up to the present has been completely redesigned and extensively revised and updated. In addition, the illustrations have all been enhanced, and a total of 443 are now in color. Gombrich is more than an authority, he's an advocate, and his love and deep respect for art infuse his invigorating text. In his discussion of twentieth-century art, for instance, Gombrich explains how even the most experimental contemporary art is connected in some way to what has gone before. Gombrich tells the story of art "as the story of a continuous weaving and changing of traditions in which each work refers to the past and points to the future." Gombrich's invaluable history is a veritable celebration of this "living chain."
<:st> The newly designed 16th edition invites a new generation to the immense pleasures of the author's lucid and accessible writing about art history. This is the paper text edition of the classic work (cited in "BCL3"), first published in 1950 and updated and reprinted extensively since then. ("Books in Print" shows that the 16th is also published in a paper trade edition distributed by Chronicle Books; Phaidon Press Ltd. holds the copyright.) Contains numerous color plates. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
From the Publisher

Lucid and endlessly informative." – The Good Book Guide"

For everyone, not just for stuffed shirts." – The Mail on Sunday"

The country’s bestselling book on art, never out of print, still in demand" – The Times"

Gombrich’s voice is lively, opinionated, and almost conversational, yet his erudition shines through to make a book that is both accessible and informative." – Library Journal"

This comprehensive look at Western art from prehistoric times on up to the present has been completely redesigned and extensively revised and updated." – Booklist"

Enjoy the most famous book on art ever published. . . This has been revamped for the first time since 1972, offering larger illustrations, more color, and improved text and coverage. Highly recommended." – Midwest Book Review"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780714833552
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press
  • Publication date: 4/9/1995
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 16
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 347,099
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.87 (d)

Meet the Author


Ernst Gombrich was one of the greatest and least conventional art historians of his age, achieving fame and distinction in three separate spheres: as a scholar, as a popularizer of art, and as a pioneer of the application of the psychology of perception to the study of art. His best-known book, The Story of Art – first published 50 years ago and now in its sixteenth edition – is one of the most influential books ever written about art. His books further include The Sense of Order (1979) and The Preference for the Primitive (2002), as well as a total of 11 volumes of collected essays and reviews.

Gombrich was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London in November 2001. He came to London in 1936 to work at the Warburg Institute, where he eventually became Director from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. He won numerous international honors, including a knighthood, the Order of Merit and the Goethe, Hegel and Erasmus prizes.

Gifted with a powerful mind and prodigious memory, he was also an outstanding communicator, with a clear and forceful prose style. His works are models of good art—historical writing, and reflect his humanism and his deep and abiding concern with the standards and values of our cultural heritage."

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Table of Contents

Preface 7
Introduction: On art and artists 15
1 Strange Beginnings: Prehistoric and primitive peoples; Ancient America 39
2 Art for Eternity: Egypt, Mesopotamia, Crete 55
3 The Great Awakening: Greece, seventh to fifth century BC 75
4 The Realm of Beauty: Greece and the Greek world, fourth century BC to first century AD 99
5 World Conquerors: Romans, Buddhists, Jews and Christians, first to fourth century AD 117
6 A Parting of Ways: Rome and Byzantium, fifth to thirteenth century 133
7 Looking Eastwards: Islam, China, second to thirteenth century 143
8 Western Art in the Melting Pot: Europe, sixth to eleventh century 157
9 The Church Militant: The twelfth century 171
10 The Church Triumphant: The thirteenth century 185
11 Courtiers and Burghers: The fourteenth century 207
12 The Conquest of Reality: The early fifteenth century 223
13 Tradition and Innovation I: The later fifteenth century in Italy 247
14 Tradition and Innovation II: The fifteenth century in the North 269
15 Harmony Attained: Tuscany and Rome, early sixteenth century 287
16 Light and Colour: Venice and northern Italy, early sixteenth century 325
17 The New Learning Spreads: Germany and the Netherland, early sixteenth century 341
18 A Crisis of Art: Europe, later sixteenth century 361
19 Vision and Visions: Catholic Europe, first half of the seventeenth century 387
20 The Mirror of Nature: Holland, seventeenth century 413
21 Power and Glory I: Italy, later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 435
22 Power and Glory II: France, Germany and Austria, late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries 447
23 The Age of Reason: England and France, eighteenth century 457
24 The Break in Tradition: England, America and France, late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries 475
25 Permanent Revolution: The nineteenth century 499
26 In Search of New Standards: The late nineteenth century 535
27 Experimental Art: The first half of the twentieth century 557
28 A Story Without End
The triumph of Modernism 599
Another turning of the tide 618
The changing past 626
A note on art books 638
Chronological charts 655
Maps 664
List of illustrations by location 670
Index and glossary 674
Acknowledgements 687
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2001

    The Story of Art

    Published in 1950 and revised 16 times up until 1995 to keep up with the changing art, Gombrich¿s book gives a great introduction to art from the beginning of time up to experimental art of the twentieth century. I started reading the book near its middle at the Renaissance period in Italy. The book is full of so much useful information and wonderful pictures. This book really does tell a story; it is not like most textbooks in that each new chapter is separate from the others. Each chapter seems to pick up from the other, showing the true flow of art movements throughout time. The art movements did not just stop and a new one started, instead styles slowly changed and new genres of art formed. The Story of Art is not fragmented and unrelated. It is a real, flowing story. That is one reason why I enjoyed reading it. Gombrich divided his book into 28 chapters. So far I have only read from chapter 13 until the end. The chapters generally start off with examples of architecture and then move on to painting. The section I read starts off with the Renaissance in Italy during the fifteenth century. It goes on to talk about the spread of the Renaissance into Northern Europe. Chapter 15 is about Tuscany and Rome in the early 16th century, with focus on the great artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. The next chapter discusses the art style of Venice in the early 16th century, emphasizing artists Titian and Correggio. In chapter 17 we learn how the art of Italy spread north to Germany and the Netherlands. This chapter talks about German artist Dürer. Chapter 18 is titled A Crisis of Art. It talks about the problem that arose in European Art of new generations not being able to surpass the masters that had preceded them. They were questioning whether art had come to a standstill or if there were still improvements to be made. The chapter also introduces El Greco. The next chapter introduces Baroque art and talks about the transition from Renaissance to Baroque. It highlights artists like Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, and Velázquez. Next is about Holland in the 17th century and Rembrandt. Chapter 21 and 22 go together. They are called Power and Glory: 1 and 2. The first section is about the use of art in churches, the second part is about art to show power and royalty. Chapter 23 The Age of Reason included St. Paul¿s Cathedral and the focus of art switching from power to ordinary people. In the next chapter questions about what styles are right and even what is style arise in England, America, and France. Chapter 25 discusses the changes in architecture and painting in the nineteenth century and interprets the artwork of Manet, Degas, Monet, Rodin, and Whistler. Chapter 26 is about Art Nouveau, or a new art style. It brought about artists like Cezanne, Seurat, van Gogh, and Gauguin. In Chapter 27 Experimental Art, shows the switch into modern art with architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Gropius, and painters Picasso, Munch, Chagal, Dali, and simplistic sculptor Brancusi. The last chapter states that the story of art does not have an end and the past of it is always changing with new discoveries. Since the book has many chapters I will only discuss a few of them in depth. Chapters 21 and 22, Power and Glory, parts 1 and 2 both discuss the discovery of the power of art to impress and overwhelm people. In Chapter 21 the emphasis is on the use of art in churches in Italy in the later 17th and 18th centuries. The style of the period was Baroque, a very decorative style. In churches art was used to teach people who could not read about the Bible, and to persuade and convert people. Painters and architects were always trying to outdo prior artists and use even more detail. Chapter 22 showed how art could be used by people of power to show this power. A great example is that of Louis XVI who used art and splendor in his elaborate palace Versailles to show his power and royalty. Soon after Baroque

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    I have read this book three times over a number of years for ren

    I have read this book three times over a number of years for renewed knowledge and enjoyment. The author's prose truly provides the reader with an entertaining story and allows him/her an easier method of learning the subject than a school semester. I first read this book before beginning travel to Europe's art museums. The knowledge I gleaned made my travels even more worthwhile.

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  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Even I could understand it

    I felt like I was sitting on my couch listening to a friend share his love of art. The only disadvantage was the tiny print, and the small pictures. Otherwise, a great reference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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