This book was first published in 1894, but this edition was first published in 1909, it is now in the public domain. The author was professor of the History of Art in Rutgers College at the time he wrote this. This Kindle version has no pictures in it, there is a free e-book version available with many pictures in it on the internet (but that one needs a lot of memoryspace: 5.1 MB, without pictures just 377 kB). This edition has 277 pages/4401 locations. This book was aimed at students in highschools and colleges, it is easy to read, no prior knowledge is neccesary. This book has an active table of contents at the beginning of this book, at location 23. At the beginning of every chapter there is a list of recommended books.
I do not recommend this book, it is too obsolete and there is too many information in it that is no longer believed to be correct. The two biggest problems I have with this book are:
1) The incorrect information.
Some of the information is just obsolete, some of it is not correct. Much more is known nowadays about art than 100 years ago. Techniques like X-ray (showing the sketches below the painting) and dendrology (science of trees, helps dating paintings on wooden panels) have given us information that was not available at the time this book was written. Just one example: At page 200/location 2585 this book says: (quote) PRINCIPAL WORKS:--Hubert van Eyck, Adoration of the Lamb (with Jan van Eyck) St.Read more ›
A Text-Book on the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke was published a century ago. Today it offers the modern reader not only potted, period critiques of important artists, but also a remarkable insight into how aesthetics change from generation to generation. John Charles Van Dyke's assessments of some work will surprise today's reader, especially his attitudes towards some contemporary artists who received rather hostile reactions from some quarters when their work was first exhibited.
The book deals with the European tradition. It makes no excuses for this. At the time, non-European art was perhaps less well known in Western critical circles. Perhaps also, it was regarded as somehow inferior, perhaps also merely because it was not European in origin. But Van Dyke does offer us a working distinction that excludes most non-European art from his survey, that of the difference between observation and expression. Only that which aims at expression, for van Dyke at least, is worthy of the label "art". Somehow ancient Egyptian art makes it into the oeuvre, probably because it was also represented in museums that were close at hand and accessible.
Two painters in particular illustrate the difference in treatment between van Dyke's age and our own, El Greco and Alma-Tadema. El Greco is hardly mentioned as a figure in sixteenth century Spain, his achievements apparently being regarded as rather localised on Toledo. Thus a figure now regarded as a unique stylist and visionary hardly figures in this text. Alma-Tadema, whose academicism and detail might today offer summary and epitome of the staid Victorian England that toyed euphemistically with the erotic is also dismissed.Read more ›
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the major failing of this book is its utter lack of illustration. the author is writing more of an editorial view of the artists he covers and shares his opinions freely. It is fascinating to read a history that predates Van Gogh & Picasso, and seems to skim over-quickly the Leonardo & Rembrandt impacts on the world, in favour of dozens of lesser know figures. As I.said, it is a review based out of a time with much less access to Information and consideration for opposing views on art. I consider and recommend it as an academic read, but not a historical or remotely conclusive account of art.
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