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Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – July 28, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0192821447 ISBN-10: 019282144X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (July 28, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019282144X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192821447
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

`Of interest not only to Art Historians, but to anyone concerned with the material culture of the Renaissance.' Dr Jonathan Sawday, University of Southampton

About the Author


Michael Baxandall, Reader of Renaissance Studies at the Warburg Institute, University of London, is also the author of Giotto and the Orators.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

117 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I find it strange that many people find it strange that one might read a book like this one for fun. Twice in one day I had people approach me and ask me for what class I was reading this, as if there are books one reads only in school and books one reads in real life.
I did read this in real life, and I read it for three reasons: 1) I knew this is a highly regarded book in art criticism, 2) it deals with a period of art history about which I wanted to know more, and 3) it looked like it would be a fun read.
My primary reaction to the book upon reading it was: how did the author fit such a huge book into so few pages? There are books that cannot be measured by page count. PAINTING AND EXPERIENCE IN FIFTEENTH-CENTURY ITALY contains 153 pages of text, with illustrations taking up around a third of those. Despite that, Baxandall is able to pack an amazing amount of information in a very small number of pages. Yet, as dense as this book is, it never becomes anything less than completely readable. It is a very fast read, and not merely because of the small number of pages. Baxandall's contention is that the visual experience of a Quattrocento person (or what he eventually comes to self-mockingly comes to call "a church-going business man, with a taste for dancing") is not one to which we any longer have conceptual access. He laments that we too often approach these paintings with our own conceptual categories in the forefront, and impose these upon the paintings, instead of judging them and perceiving them, as a contemporary would have. His goal in this slender volume is to attempt to reestablish some sense of the pictorial concepts with which a Quattrocento person approaches a painting. In this I believe he succeeds admirably.
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Christine L. Savides on April 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really can't add more to Robert W. Moore's insightful review. However, I feel a need to counterbalance the ranting reviews posted by others on this page.

In particular, the one-star reviews listed here are simply embarrassing. Clearly, these reviewers do not represent the intended audience for this book. It's not Michael Baxandall's fault that these reviewers were unable or unwilling to engage themselves with the depth, detail, and scope of his book. Ignore them.

Here's a useful litmus test: If you would consider taking an art history course because you think it would be an "easy A," avoid this book. On the other hand, if you hold a genuine interest and enthusiasm for art history in general - and for Renaissance art in particular - this book should be well worth your time.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Pierre C. Ruette on September 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was my first introduction to the art historian world and it was fascinating. Unfortunately, but only for me, is the fact that both my educational level and acquired knowledge of the subject were insufficiently advanced to fully appreciate the author's insights. That just calls for more work on my part to study up in advance. It should be taken as praise for Mr. Baxandall's pedagocic style which -- as the best teachers tend to do -- opened up new vistas, if only I choose to look.

My only crticism is not of the contents or the author but of the publisher or more likely the editor. Perhaps it is pure economics which resulted in this insecure form of binding and too much type on each page to save space, while the juxtaposition of plates against the relevant text reference was very poor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By paedagogue on May 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
exactly what it promises: a key to relating the "raw" evidence of Renaissance social history (contracts, treatises on commercial math, preaching and devotion, social dancing, and--most wonderful--the making and judging of art) to the "raw" evidence of Renaissance picture-making: altarpieces, portable diptychs and other devotional panels, frescoes on convent walls. NOWHERE does Baxandall promise to "unveil" artistic mysteries, or show us the "fun" of Renaissance art. He never panders to his reader's ignorance, or accepts the facile claim that art is about personal genius "expressing itself." If you believe looking at art is a self-sufficient experience purely dependent on your ability to "connect" emotionally or aesthetically with an object made by a genius, that's great, but you won't learn anything from this book, because you know all you need to know already. If, however, you can drop your solipsistic preconceptions about art and ask yourself: WHY were Renaissance pictures made, WHO had them made (guess what? It WASN'T the artists!), HOW were they seen (NOT in museums!), then you're in for an amazingly thoughtful and well documented primer in "how to see as if you were a Renaissance art buyer" (the only buyers that mattered to "Renaissance geniuses," who would have laughed at the modern museum-goer attempting to emotionally connect with "fine art" cut off from its original location and purpose). Baxandall was a great linguist (Greek, Latin, German, Italian, French . . .), as well as a specialist who combined deep curatorial expertise (he knew in precise technical detail how a tree-trunk was transformed into a painted wood statue) and advanced historical analysis.Read more ›
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