Wandering in every art museum, one sees the great art of Italians from the ancient Romans, the Baroque and the Renaissance and then...nothing. One wonders: did Italians stop painting? Obviously not! The produced some excellent impressionist works! Okay, they weren't as innovative nor as excellent as the French, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth viewing. Ottocento not only provides beautiful prints, but also an analysis of the paintings together with the biography of the artists. Thoroughly enjoyable.
In the United States, there has been very little study of Nineteenth Century Italian Painting. The Risorgimento was one of the great political and social movements of Nineteenth Century Europe and yet the cultural aspects of this movement are almost unknown on this side of the Atlantic. When this book was published in 1992, "Ottocento" was the first serious consideration of Nineteenth Century Italian Painting.
As a first exploration of the subject, "Ottocento" does an adequate job of laying out the Italian artisitc landscape of the time. The numerous chapters by Italian art scholars are well written and easy to follow for a non-specialist. The only downside of the book are the numerous black and white reproductions. A printing revolution has taken place in the last twenty years. "Ottocento" feels and looks like a exhibit catalogue of twenty five years ago. But in the final analysis, the paintings are beautiful and if this topic is of interest to you, "Ottocento" is a must purchase.
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