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Early Christian & Byzantine Art: A&I (Art & Ideas) Paperback – April 24, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: Art & Ideas
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (April 24, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714831689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714831688
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'One could not praise too highly its lucidity and balance. If it were a novel, one would even speak of its un-put-downability.' (Sister Wendy Beckett) 'Comprehensive and illuminating. Explicates an enormous amount of material with eloquence and enthusiasm.' (Booklist) 'The best short study in English. John Lowden has a facility for presenting his subject without presuming too much or saying too little. Compact in style and beautiful to look at, this is a likeable as well as a learned book.' (Catholic Herald) 'Art & Ideas has broken new ground in making accessible authoritative views on periods, movements and concepts in art. As a series it represents a real advance in publishing.' (Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate London) 'The format is wonderful and offers what had long been missing in academic studies: usable manuals for specific themes or periods...I am definitely not alone in welcoming Art & Ideas as a precious set of teaching tools.' (Joachim Pissarro, Yale University)

About the Author

John Lowden is Professor of History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He is an international authority on medieval and Byzantine manuscripts.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Campbell on October 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Like another reviewer, I also had this book for a course on Byzantine art. For the most part, Lowden's book is a "survey" in the fullest sense of the word: on average, he only spends a paragraph or two on a particular monument, focusing primarily on style and iconography for icon panels, mosaics, architecture, and "minor arts" (always a dilemma when writing a survey book--quantity of material versus level of depth in one's discussion). He also follows the traditional chronological framework of discussing Early Christian/Byzantine art: from the catacombs and the reign of Constantine, to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
Having said this, Lowden's book stands out among other surveys for many reasons. Although too numerous for the length of this review, among such strengths are his extensive discussions of Byzantine manuscripts (Lowden's area of scholarly interest), including a chapter on production and reception. He also devotes some attention to the factors surrounding the rise of Iconoclasm, and subsequent artistic production after the iconophiles had "triumphed" over this era of the destruction of figural imagery.
Although a handful of other Byzantine art surveys have been published since Lowden's book (some good, some bad), I feel that this ranks within a small, high-quality group of studies on Byzantine art.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By trowbridgee@asme.org on March 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a frustrating book. Graphically, with its numerous vivid, full-color photographs, it is quite striking. Textually, though not poorly written, per se, it is bland. Furthermore, though Lowden (mercifully) dispenses with jargon, he does pay lip service to one of the most recent academic trends in art history: reception theory. I really wish he wouldn't have. Even though surveys are seldom ground-breaking, Lowden's ideas particularly strike me as ones that are not his own. The only area of Byzantine art about which he does seem to know more than most - illuminated manuscripts - gets more coverage than it probably deserves. Then again, Lowden is described as an illuminated manuscript expert on the dust jacket of the book, so perhaps his indulgence is understandable. In short, David Talbot Rice's "Art of the Byzantine Era" still stands in my mind as a better-written and more enduring short survey of Byzantine and early Christian art. Lowden's work is much better graphically, but he lacks Rice's flair and ability to express his enthusiasm for his subject.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Brooke on July 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was one of my textbooks for a Byzantine art class in college. The pictures are beautifully reproduced and well-presented and the typeface is bold and easy on myopic eyes. The text may seem a bit bland to the well-educated byzantine scholar, but it was a great book for becoming acquainted with one of the richest periods in the history of art. Concisely written, Lowden's book provides the insight and joyful curiosity of an engaged scholar who obviously enjoyed writing the book. That said, I highly recommend this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TarynJ on January 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have no complaints about the content of the book or it's author, but the book itself has completely fallen apart. The spine completely detached from the cover within 2 weeks after I got it. I never kept it in a backpack or tossed it around either. When asked by our professor if we liked this particular book because she wanted feedback on whether or not she should use it again the next semester, almost every single student had the same complaint as I did, as their books had all fallen apart after minimal use.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Trowbridge on May 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a frustrating book. Graphically, with its numerous vivid, full-color photographs, it is quite striking. Textually, though not poorly written, per se, it is bland. Moreover, even though surveys are seldom ground-breaking, Lowden's ideas strike me as ones that are not his own - he seems in thrall to reception theory. The area of Byzantine art about which he does seem to know more than most - illuminated manuscripts - gets more coverage than it probably deserves. (Then again, Lowden is described as an illuminated manuscript expert on the dust jacket of the book, so perhaps his indulgence is understandable.) In short, and despite its now unfashionable approach, David Talbot Rice's "Art of the Byzantine Era" still stands in my mind as a better-written and more enduring short survey of Byzantine and early Christian art. Lowden's work is much better graphically, but he lacks Rice's flair and ability to express his enthusiasm for his subject.
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