Customer Review

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and fascinating book, October 25, 2005
This review is from: Portraiture (Oxford History of Art) (Paperback)
If you are an art lover, connoisseur, art history student, fashion designer, or someone who wants to explore the mysterious world of portraiture this book is an excellent choice. The author assumed the difficult task of providing a clear, comprehensive overview of the history of portraits and portraiture from the ancient world, through the Renaissance to modern art.

I would give this book the best rating possible. You ask why? The answer is simple. As an art lover, I am particularly interested in the evolution of portraits and portraiture of the Renaissance and Baroque and this book covers the whole range of my interest and beyond. In this lavishly illustrated book the author, Shearer West, explains why the portrait as a work of art occupies the central position in art history, gives easy to remember definitions of portraits and portraiture, and studies the diversity of portrait forms and functions. She discusses in-depth how portraiture changed and developed over the centuries and paints a unique, intriguing relationship of artist, sitters, patron/s and viewer. She also reveals who and why commissioned the portraits and how a portrait can reflect and represent the social status of the sitter (rich or poor, powerful or subjugated, professional or servant) in different historical periods. The history of portraiture could not be completed without a broad-range of methods and tricks, sometimes very funny, used by artists to present themselves to the publicity. Her investigation of the complexities of contemporary ortraiture, of the 1950's onwards, is clear and convincing. This fascinating book is enriched with 146 high quality illustrations with well written, highly informative commentary to each painting.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 8, 2008 12:07:15 PM PST
This may be right if you are looking for an introductory level "Which Way is Up in Portraits." But even at that level the book disappoints in its lack of original thought.
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