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Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition 7th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131934559
ISBN-10: 0131934554
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Penelope J. E. Davies

holds a B.A. from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Yale University and  is currently Associate Professor at the University of Texas in Austin.  Her research focuses on public art and architecture and politics in ancient Rome.  She is author of Death and the Emperor:  Roman Imperial Funerary Monuments from Augustus to Marcus Aurelius (Cambridge University Press 2000 and University of Texas Press 2004, winner of the Vasari Award, as well as articles and essays on ancient Rome.


In her own words, why she joined the project: 

“I joined this project hoping that the new edition would bear witness to a constantly evolving dialogue about art, in which formulating new questions is as important as finding new answers. The new edition also necessitates balancing an accepted canon of ‘great works’ with new additions to reflect changing definitions of art and artists, and to incorporate recent discoveries — a responsibility to be approached with caution. The project has proved challenging at every step, but tremendously invigorating and rewarding.”


Reviewer quote:"Professor Davies has managed to include and condense the basic developments of these ancient art traditions in clear, interesting and well-integrated prose. Throughout, she never fails to introduce the various theories and ideas about these works of art and indicate what we don’t know, as well as controversies ... The result is an authoritative, lively and challenging text that cannot fail to stimulate and challenge university undergraduate students and prepare them for subsequent chapters in this new book."  David Gordon Mitten, Harvard University



Walter B. Denny

is a Professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and also currently serves as Consulting Curator for Islamic Art at the Smith College Museum of Art.  He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.While his research interests concentrate mainly on the art and architecture of the Ottoman Turks, his teaching and consulting range from Museum Studies and Orientalism to serving as guest curator for a wide variety of museum exhibitions. In addition to exhibition catalogues, his publications include books on Ottoman Turkish carpets, textiles, and ceramics, and articles on miniature painting, architecture and architectural decoration.


In his own words, why he joined the project:

“For me, introducing students to the history of art for the first time is the most exciting, the most worthwhile, and the most important task that any art historian can hope for. After thirty-five years of teaching, I welcome the chance to participate in a project where I am able to introduce a large student audience to the beauty, the breadth, the complexity, and the challenge of Islamic art. I hope that Islamic art, a mirror reflecting an important and often misunderstood culture and society, will provide students with a way to understand and appreciate the achievements and the aspirations of Islamic people today, as well as an understanding of their important and deeply-rooted historical accomplishments in the visual arts.”


Reviewer quote:

"Walter Denny’s pan Islamic view of the material over time and space makes this updated Janson’s survey an enlightened pleasure."  Charles Little, Metropolitan Museum of Art



Frima Fox Hofrichter,

Professor and Chair of the History of Art and Design department at Pratt Institute, received her Ph.D. at Rutgers University and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the seventeenth-century Dutch artist, Judith Leyster (supported by a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Award for Women’s Studies). The resulting book was later published as JUDITH LEYSTER, A DUTCH ARTIST IN HOLLAND’S GOLDEN AGE (Davaco, 1989) and granted CAA’s Millard Meiss Publication Fund Award. Her work in gender and social history continued with the notable exhibition, Haarlem, the Seventeenth Century (Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers) and Leonaert Bramer, 1596-1674, A Painter of the Night (Haggerty Museum, Milwaukee). Hofrichter has maintained her investigations of art and social history, weaving both together in publications examining aspects as diverse as astronomy and prostitution.


In her own words, why she joined the project:

“I was honored when I was invited to participate in the Janson Project. It was an incredible compliment, yet an overwhelming responsibility at the same time. But more than this rush of emotions, it meant that I would have the opportunity to have Janson’s History of Art read more like I taught! There could be not only more women artists included, but also more images of women, more of a sense of the fabric of social history that set the stage for the art. Writing for Janson, contributing to this basic historical survey, meant that I would have the possibility to not just re-invent, but also re-invigorate, the canon for the next generation of art history students.”


Reviewer quote:

"By their nature, survey texts tend to lag behind contemporary developments in the discipline, but Hofrichter has brought Janson’s text as close to the scholarly moment as is likely to be possible. In particular, I would signal her engagement with new methodologies, enhanced contextualization, up-to-date interpretation of individual pieces, and inclusion of thoughtfully

chosen new works."  John Beldon Scott, University of Iowa



Joseph Jacobs

is an independent art historian, writer, and critic living in New York City. He was the curator of modern art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, director of the Oklahoma City Art Museum, and curator of American art at The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey. His publications include SINCE THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE:  50 YEARS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN ART, THIS IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPH:  TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF LARGE-SCALE PHOTOGRAPHY, and A WORLD OF THEIR OWN: TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN FOLK ART.


In his own words, why he joined the project:

“Life is about challenges, and for me as an art historian, writing a large portion of a major survey book on the history of art has to be one of the greatest challenges in the profession. My goal is to bring art history alive in a way that is rarely done in survey books. This means organizing the material in an especially meaningful and powerful fashion, in effect, creating a narrative thread that is both exciting and in its clarity educational.”


Reviewer quote:

"This is a great leap forward for the Janson text ... This version is smart, clear, very carefully organized and extremely fluid and highly readable. I would say that apart from providing the basic historical information and offering excellent formal analysis-a foundation of the Janson text since Peter Janson’s original version–this new version is also steeped in material culture and social/cultural history. It is jargonfree:  thank you. It is politically sensitive without pandering; and it is always thorough."  Ken Silver, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University



Ann M. Roberts 

holds a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  An art historian specializing in the Renaissance, she has published essays articles, and reviews on both Northern and Italian Renaissance topics.  Her research focuses on women in the Renaissance.  She has taught at Illinois State University, the University of Iowa, and is currently Professor of Art at Lake Forest College.


In her own words, why she joined the project:

“The discipline of art history has changed in the decades since Janson wrote his textbook. We are no longer so comfortable ...


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 7th edition (February 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131934554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131934559
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 2.2 x 11.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wyote VINE VOICE on July 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the standard history of art textbooks. Of course it includes color prints of all the most famous art of the Western tradition, as well as numerous photographs and floorplans of famous architecture. It has a little coverage of Islamic art, but that is a topic that deserves better than it can be given in a textbook on the Western tradition. Painting, architecture and sculpture are clearly the focus, but photography and decor each get a nod. Other forms of art--from gardening to appliance design--although interesting, evidently cannot fit in this space.

The text is adequate: a little better than standard textbook composition, less dull, perhaps a touch less condescending, and of course perfectly informative.

Issues in technique, interpretation and so on are well-introduced.

If you, like me, are not a student but an adult just curious about art, this is a fine choice. I've also enjoyed work by Robert Hughes ("The Shock of the New," which I strongly recommend, and "American Visions"), Andre Malraux ("The Voices of Silence") and David Morgan ("The Sacred Gaze").

(I'm not widely read in this field by any means: those are the only books I've read about Western art history! So there could be various better books out there. But still, this textbook has been very useful to me, helping me fill out my knowledge in many areas.)
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This book is incredibly comprehensive and covers all aspects of art in different cultures, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and burial sites. It is remarkably detailed (almost too much so), and has many great pictures.

The most distinctive aspect of this book is the primary sources it includes that explain the historical context of artworks. For example, there are numerous letters (translated, of course) from Italian artists in the Renaissance to their clients. Another text includes excerpts from the law code of Hammurabi, to accompany the sculptural piece on which it was originally engraved.
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I ordered this classic book as used and received it in more than good condition which was advertised.

"Janson's History of Art" is one of the most famous art book which includes detailed overview of Western art, its technique and styles, not only listing all of historically significant pieces of art but write a story about their interconnections, a styles history and stylistic changes.

Although its must read for all students of art, it's probably the best book that can be recommended for art lovers who will during its reading learn a lot about the Western paintings, sculpture and architecture - from the Prehistoric Art, Middle Ages, Romanesque and Gothic, the Renaissance, Baroque and the Rococo, to the Realism, Impressionism and the Post-Modern era.

After Janson's death in 1982, this seventh edition of his famous book introduced the authorship of six art specialists who are narrating the history of art. Due to the contribution of several expert authors each and every part of the book is characterized with a currency in art historical thinking resulting is a completely meaningful and powerful presentation of Western art.

You can't miss with this one with its references to any important piece of art made in last several thousand years. "Janson's History of Art" is absolutely recommended for maybe a few art professionals who didn't read it until now but also for all art enthusiasts.
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This book is terrific, even for non-students. It includes historical and artistic timelines, beautiful images, and accurate descriptions of examples of artwork for each historical period. Great coffee table book.
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Format: Hardcover
An excellent base for an art student to build upon; clear, informative, visual, and historical. Supplements and sources such as Wikipedia and encyclopedias and history texts will show how intertwined art is with politics and religions in depth where the book skims over.
A wonderful book, and covers some Eastern Art despite the focus title on the West. Chapters are organized and they get the point across; lovely descriptions of photographs that are present in the book, so you really get to study the subject and with the assistance of the text, see the inner beauty in the architecture.
What I found lacking was the mention of the Golden Ratio, and in fact, any mathematics whatsoever. As mathematics is very important to ancient-modern art, I found it rather confusing. However, as said before, an excellent base.
Very intriguing and not in the least boring or dry, Janson's History of Art is a prime choice coupled with supplementary books. If you're interested in overall art history, this is the one to go with...
Have fun!!!
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By Reviewer on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm using the book for an art history class. It might've been more useful to buy the book in sections. I hear that the book is also printed as two books (halves) which would be much more useful and convenient to move around.
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I originally bought this book as a supplement to an art history class. I am now in my third art history class and still using this book. The book is well written and laid-out chronologically with introductions for each chapter that include some of the cultural background about the period in art history. There are lots of great pictures. A detailed index that helps you find information about artists, artworks, or art periods. There are interesting sidelines that add to the current topic, such as exerpts from letters artists wrote and techniques such as the lost-wax process. In addition, each chapter includes a timeline and a summary at the end.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a supplement to an art history class or an interesting book on art in general.
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