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25 Reviews
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105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Fascinating
I have seen but a few episodes of this series on the Ovation network. Those few hours were absolutely fascinating. As someone who knows the merest sliver about art, this series taught me so much. What each episode does is focus on one important work of art, like Michaelangelo's "David," and discusses the artist and the art. It shows the development of the piece, the...
Published on March 17, 2008 by JEP

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An uneven series
I am another professor of art history who has reviewed many films and television videos in search of material that could be used profitably in the classroom. The individual segments of The Private Life of a Masterpiece series are uneven. The one devoted to Rembrandt's Nightwatch is exceptionally good--both the handling of historical questions and the explanation of its...
Published on January 15, 2012 by T. Willette


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105 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Fascinating, March 17, 2008
By 
JEP (Cincinnati, Ohio USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
I have seen but a few episodes of this series on the Ovation network. Those few hours were absolutely fascinating. As someone who knows the merest sliver about art, this series taught me so much. What each episode does is focus on one important work of art, like Michaelangelo's "David," and discusses the artist and the art. It shows the development of the piece, the history of the artist, the history of the piece, why it's important, and, most importantly, what you might want to look for if you could see the actual piece.

This is the exciting type of information you would want to know if you went strolling through a museum. Instead of zipping past a piece of art, you'd know to stop and what to look for. Now this may sound dull and dry, but this series (again, at least the few episodes I saw...and rewatched) is amazingly addictive because of its casual narrative, brimming with tons of fascinating information.

I've ordered this set and can't wait to soak it all up. Highly recommended. You'll learn so much.
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104 of 106 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best series yet!, November 11, 2008
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
As professor of Art History I have previewed dozens of art documentaries. This series stands above the others due to its format (40 min. in depth on one work), good overview of other works by the artists, great historical background to put the work in context, and demonstrations of the working process of the artist. I only wish there were more!
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66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating and Fun!, June 5, 2008
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
This is a BBC series that devotes each hour episode to a single work of art - but in a fun, engaging, and interesting way. I read a glowing review of it in Entertainment Weekly and was not disappointed in the least. This is an absolutely *must have* for anyone who has an artistic interest and wants to better understand why some works of art are considered masterpieces, what their historical context is, the life of the person who created them, and what has happened to them - physically, culturally - from their creation to now.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant series, February 19, 2010
By 
Serai (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
Here is a list of the episodes, which I found on the web. I hope it's useful to anyone thinking about buying this collection.

Disc One: Renaissance Masterpieces
* "Sandro Botticelli: La Primavera"
* "Paolo Uccello: The Battle of San Romano"
* "Leonardo Da Vinci: The Last Supper"
* "Pierro della Francesca: The Resurrection"

Disc Two: Seventeenth Century Masters
* "Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch"
* "Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting"
* "Diego Velazquez: The Rokeby Venus"

Disc Three: Masterpieces 1800-1850
* "Francisco Goya: The Third of May 1808"
* "Eugene Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People"
* "Katsushika Hokusai: The Great Wave"

Disc Four: Masterpieces 1851-1900
* "Edouard Manet: Le Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe"
* "James McNeill Whistler: Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Artist's Mother"
* "Edvard Munch: The Scream"

Disc Five: Impressionism and the Post-Impressionists
* "Auguste Renoir: Dance at the Moulin de la Galette"
* "Vincent Van Gogh: The Sunflowers"
* "Georges Seurat: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte 1884"

Disc Six: Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century
* "Pablo Picasso: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon"
* "Gustav Klimt: The Kiss"
* "Salvador Dali: Christ of St. John on the Cross"

Disc Seven: Masterpieces of Sculpture
* "Michelangelo: David"
* "Edgar Degas: Little Dancer Aged 14"
* "Auguste Rodin: The Kiss"

I agree with the others who've posted comments here. This is a wonderful series, full of engaging information on each piece it examines. It's especially fine for people who don't know much about art but would like to, because through its examination of the pieces and the interview clips from accomplished artists and knowledgable experts, it teaches you how to look at art. So you can take the lessons you learn here and apply them to any piece you see in a museum or gallery.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Candy for the Art Lover, October 27, 2008
By 
C. Saxton (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
I bought this after seeing one of the episodes on TV on Bravo or Showcase up in Canada. I was just flipping through channels, "what is this?". Then I waited for it to show up on Amazon.com, not just .uk.
I'm no art major, but I have taken a couple art history classes, and this went into details that put a psycho-social connection to a painting, rather than just studying the brushwork. Each episode feels like a chapter of an artists story that you get a glimpse into, if only for a blink of an eye.
BBC as always does a fantastic job of putting it all together. They've got several art historians who review the paintings, so you listen to a few interpretations. I also appreciated how they show the modern day take of the painting.
I've yet to finish them all, but so far I'm very happy with my purchase.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An uneven series, January 15, 2012
By 
T. Willette (Ann Arbor, Michigan) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
I am another professor of art history who has reviewed many films and television videos in search of material that could be used profitably in the classroom. The individual segments of The Private Life of a Masterpiece series are uneven. The one devoted to Rembrandt's Nightwatch is exceptionally good--both the handling of historical questions and the explanation of its importance to Dutch national identity. The film is fun, interesting and informative (in large part thanks to the top-notch education department of the Rijksmuseum). The segment devoted to Botticelli's Primavera is quite bad. In this case the editors appear to have had little confidence in the serious views of the scholars who were consulted and chose instead to treat the painting as a bit of Renaissance smut. I would not recommend buying the whole box set.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful series!, April 10, 2009
By 
Sabine (New York City) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
This is a wonderful series that I highly recommend. The focus is on one painting per artist but one learns not only the specifics of each painting but about the artist, the time in which he lived and technique.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well researched, December 21, 2008
This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
This series is wonderful. It's interesting, extremely well-researched, and compelling to watch. It was enlightening to learn the backgroud of these pieces of art. It would appeal to those who love art AND history.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very intertaining review of marvelous masterpieces, October 26, 2009
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
This is certainly a very good series of reviews of some of the world's favorite masterpieces. Although it sometimes seems repetitive because the art critics, curators, etc. interviewed describe many of the works discussed as "the most reproduced image in the history of art", or "an icon the world over", and so on, once we get past the hype and into the background of the image all the stories are compelling and well told. I am glad to have my copy in English because here in France they are shown with a dubbed over narration which makes for an unbearable cacophony of voices.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great but missing Christmas episode, January 14, 2013
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This review is from: The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5 (DVD)
I thought it was the complete series but there is a Christmas episode that does not appear to be in here. Otherwise, great!
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The Private Life of a Masterpiece: The Complete Seasons 1-5
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