Reviews by mei

The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance

by Bernhard Berenson

This book is well-written and gives information about some of the most important artists in history (Titian, Veronese, and others), and also gives some background information on the history of the time those artists lived in. The e-book versions do not have pictures. Recommended to anyone who is interested in art history.

The contents of this book:

Peface
I. VALUE OF VENETIAN ART
II. THE CHURCH AND PAINTING
III. THE RENAISSANC
IV. PAINTING AND THE RENAISSANCE
V. PAGEANT PICTURES
VI. PAINTING AND THE CONFRATERNITIES
VII. EASEL PICTURES AND GIORGIONE
VIII. THE GIORGIONESQUE SPIRIT
IX. THE PORTRAIT
X. THE YOUNG TITIAN
XI. APPARENT FAILURE OF THE RENAISSANCE
XII. LOTTO
XIII. THE LATE RENAISSANCE AND TITIAN
XIV. HUMANITY AND THE RENAISSANCE
XV. SEBASTIANO DEL PIOMBO
XVI. TINTORETTO
XVII. VALUE OF MINOR EPISODES IN ART
XVIII. TINTORETTO'S PORTRAITS
XIX. VENETIAN ART AND THE PROVINCES
XX. PAUL VERONESE
XXI. BASSANO, GENRE, AND LANDSCAPE
XXII. THE VENETIANS AND VELASQUEZ
XXIII. DECLINE OF VENETIAN ART
XXIV. LONGHI
XXV. CANALETTO AND GUARDI
XXVI. TIEPOLO
XXVII. INFLUENCE OF VENETIAN ART
INDEX TO THE WORKS OF THE PRINCIPAL VENETIAN PAINTERS
INDEX OF PLACES

The index of places at the end of the book is a list of art works and where they were at the time of writing. This list is alphabetical. Works of art are mentioned under the name of the artist. Because of the age of this book some of the works of art may no longer be in the place they were at the time this book was written.

Reviewed on 2012.08.09

Knights of Art

by Amy Steedman

This book is written for children (I think the age-group 10-16 years olds). It was first published in 1908, so it is now in the public domain and available for free as an e-book from several sites. The printed editions have pictures, the e-books don't. There is an active table of contents. I did find some typo's in this book, but they were not really the problem. The big problem with this book is it's unreliability, see below. Another problem is the style of writing, I found this book to be 'unreadable', I copy a bit from this book at the bottom of this review so you can see the style this book is written in for yourself.

The life histories of Italian painters in this book are based on Giorgio Vasari's 'Vite de' più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani, da Cimabue insino a' tempi nostri' (= 'Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects'), first published in 1550. Vasari did not do any research and his life-histories of artists are for a big part made-up by himself. The biographies of his contemparies are thought to be more reliable.

Because this book by Amy Steedman is based on Vasari it is full of anecdotes and gossip and is not reliable. If you want to know more about Italian artists, you want to know that what you're reading is true, and not just a mix of myths and truth, as this book is. Not everything that is written in this book is wrong, the problem is you need to differentiate between fictive and truthful; to make this differentiation you will need another book, one that does have the facts correct. Much better to get a reliable book from the start instead of this one by Steedman.

For example, if you just look at the dates of birth and death of the painters given in this book, you will find many mistakes:

-the year of birth of Giotto stated by Steedman is 1276, but it is not known whether he was born in 1266 or 1267;
-Fra Angelico was not born in 1387 as Vasari and Amy Steedman claim: Fra Angelico was born circa 1395;
-Fra Angelico did not die in 1466 as this book claims, he died on the 18th of February 1455.
-Fra filippo Lippi was not born in 1412 but in 1406;
-Sandro Botticelli was not born in 1446 but in 1445 (and he did not die in 1610 (!) but in 1510);
-Filippino Lippi was born circa 1457, not in 1467 (and he did not die in 1604, but in 1504);
-Pietro Perugino was born c. 1446/1450, so it is not correct claiming he was born in 1446, this is possible but not sure;
–Pietro Perugino died in 1523, not in 1624;
-Leonarde da Vinci lived from April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519, not from 1462 till 1619;
-Raphaels year of birth is correct, his year of death is 1520, not 1620;
-Michelangelo lived from 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564, and not 1476-1664;
-Andrea del Sarto lived 1486–1530, not 1487-1631;
-Giovanni Bellini c. 1430–1516, not 1426 - 1616;
-Vittore Carpaccio c. 1465 – 1525/1526, not 1470?-1619;
-Giorgione, born Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco, lived form circa 1477/1478 – 1510, and not from 1477-1676;
-The correct date (or even year) of birth of Titian is still hotly debated among art-histrorians, years mentioned: c. 1488/1490, 1477, 1490. Most art-historians think circa 1488/1490 is correct. So the 1477 mentioned in this book is a minority view. Titian died in 1576, not in 1667;
-Tintoretto (real name Jacopo Comin) lived form 29th of september 1518 till 31st of May 1594, and not from 1662-1632 (sic!).

Above are just the mistakes in the dates of birth and death, imagine how many more mistakes there are in this book.

The contents of this book (can be found at location 29-60):

ABOUT THIS BOOK (introdruction by the author)
GIOTTO, . . . BORN 1276, DIED 1337
FRA ANGELICO, . . " 1387, " 1466
MASACCIO, . . . " 1401, " 1428
FRA FILIPPO LIPPI,. . " 1412, " 1469
SANDRO BOTTICELLI,. . " 1446, " 1610
DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO, " 1449, " 1494
FILIPPINO LIP . . " 1467, " 1604
PIETRO PERUGINO, . " 1446, " 1624
LEONARDO DA VINCI,. . " 1462, " 1619
RAPHAEL, . . . " 1483, " 1620
MICHELANGELO, . . " 1476, " 1664
ANDREA DEL SARTO, . " 1487, " 1631
GIOVANNI BELLINI, . " 1426, " 1616
VITTORE CARPACCIO,. . " 1470? " 1619
GIORGIONE, . . " 1477? " 1610
TITIAN, . . . " 1477, " 1676
TINTORETTO, . . " 1662, " 1637
PAUL VERONESE, . . " 1628, " 1688


As a sample of the way of writing I will copy two bits from the chapter on Michelangelo (location 1259 and location 1273) below. If all the mistakes in this book has not made you decline this book yet, than the style of writing might.

(Lodovico Buonarroti was the father of Michelangelo.)
[...]
Now the day on which the baby was born happened to be not only a
Sunday, but also a morning when the stars were especially favourable.
So the wise men declared that some heavenly virtue was sure to belong
to a child born at that particular time, and without hesitation
Lodovico determined to call his little son Michael Angelo, after the
archangel Michael. Surely that was a name splendid enough to adorn any
great career.
[...]
...when he was fourteen years old, Michelangelo was sent to study as a pupil in the
studio of Master Ghirlandaio.

It was just at the time when Ghirlandaio was painting the frescoes of
the chapel in Santa Maria Novella, and Michelangelo learned many
lessons as he watched the master at work, or even helped with the less
important parts.

But it was like placing an eagle in a hawk's nest. The young eagle
quickly learned to soar far higher than the hawk could do, and ere long
began to 'sweep the skies alone.'
[...]

Reviewed on 2012.08.08

The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance

by Bernhard Berenson

This free e-book edition is the third edition and was first published in 1909, the first edition was first published in 1896. The same author also wrote a book 'The Venetian painters of the Renaissance', this book is also available for free online.

This book is well written and gives information about some of the best and most famous artist who ever lived, for example: Leonarde da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotti, Ridolpho Ghirlandajo, Fra Filippo Lippi, and more. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in art history.

The contents of this book:

THE FLORENTINE PAINTERS OF THE RENAISSANCE 1

INDEX TO THE WORKS OF THE PRINCIPAL
FLORENTINE PAINTERS 95

INDEX OF PLACES 189

The index to the works of the principal Florentine artist is in alphabetical order, it also mentions where the piece of art was at the time the author wrote this book (in 1909). Some of the works will be no longer in the place mentioned in this book.

The index of places at the end of the book is a list of art works and where they were in 1909. This list is alphabetical. Works of art are mentioned under the name of the artist.

Reviewed on 2012.08.06

The Mind of the Artist

by Various Authors

This book was first published in 1909, it is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from several websites. This edition is collected and arranged by Mrs. Laurence Binyon with a preface by George Clausen, R.A. The printed edition has 109 pages, the e-book edition has 1639 locations. The printed edition has illustrations in it, the e-book edition has no pictures.

This is a book full of quotes by painters and sculptors. There are 243 quotes in total, they are numbered. At the beginning of the book there is an active tabel of contents (at location 6) so you can go directly to a subject that interests you (to 'activate' this table: first use the 'arrow go up' key, and than 'click' to place the cursor in the table, and then move the cursor to the subject you want to select). You can look up quotes by artist in the 'Index of Artist' at the end of this book (at location 1548). This is also an active index, you can click on a number. This is an interesting book for anyone who wants to know more about artists. You can pick and chose the bits you want to read.

Reviewed on 2012.08.05

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