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Early Christian & Byzantine Art: A&I (ART AND IDEAS) Paperback – April 24, 1997
'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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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.