A blog about art in the classical tradition

By request, I have made my second annual list of my favorite fine and decorative art books published within the last year. It is longer than before. These books reflect my personal taste, not the current zeitgeist.

I have tried to categorize them;  but, I hasten to add, that if it pricks your curiosity, ignore my inadequate labels and just get what looks good. (That is the beginning of a new love affair.)

Here are the categories:

  • DEFINITIVE: These books will become the primary source material for the subject, supplanting everything before and stimulating a new generation.
  • SCHOLARLY: Serious works of research, this label does not mean the book is unapproachable.
  • BEAUTIFUL: Without any context or reading, you could waste and afternoon just looking at it.
  • FOR READING: A work that is meant to be read first and looked at second.
  • MUST-HAVE: ‘Nuff said.
  • QUIRKY: A book that defies categorization and, therefore, may not show up on anyone else’s list.

DEFINITIVE, SCHOLARLY, BEAUTIFUL
The 19th Century in the PradoJavier Barón and José Luis Díez

SCHOLARLY & BEAUTIFUL
Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial WorldMs. Ilona Katzew (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

BEAUTIFUL & SCHOLARLY

European Sculpture, 1400-1900, in the Metropolitan Museum of ArtIan Wardropper

MUST-HAVE
Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of MilanLuke Syson (National Gallery London)

DEFINITIVE, BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY
Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection, Tobias Capwell and David Edge

BEAUTIFUL & SCHOLARLY
Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Susan Dackerman, Caludia Swan, Suzanne Karr Schmidt and Katharine Park

FOR SPECIALISTS
 Display and Art History: The Dusseldorf Gallery and Its Catalogue, Thomas W. Gaehtgens and Louis Marchesano

BEAUTIFUL & SCHOLARLY
Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500, Scott Nethersole (National Gallery London)

QUIRKY
Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates, Martin Hopkinson

DEFINITIVE, SCHOLARLY, BEAUTIFUL, FOR SPECIALISTS
A Reflection of Holland: The Best of the Hague School in the Rijksmuseum, Renske Syver

BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY, FOR SPECIALISTS
A Closer Look: Frames, Nicholas Penny (National Gallery London)

FOR SPECIALISTS
Art and the Early Photographic Album, Stephen Bann

READING
Teaching in the Art Museum: Interpretation as Experience, Rika Burnham and Elliott Kai-Kee

BEAUTIFUL& SCHOLARLY
Lethal Elegance: The Art of the Samurai Sword, Joe Earle

DEFINITIVE, BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY
Russia’s Unknown Orient, Olga Atroschenko, Vladimir Bulatov, Inessa Kouteinikova, and Karina Solovyeva

BEAUTIFUL
Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion and Medieval Europe (The British Museum), Martina Bagnoli (Editor)

BEAUTIFUL
Illusions of Reality, Edwin Becker, David Jackson, Willa Silverman and Babriel Weisberg

READING
Great Works: 50 Paintings Explored, Tom Lubbock

DEFINITIVE & BEAUTIFUL
Pieter Bruegel, Larry Silver

READING
Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History, Robert Hughes

DEFINITIVE
Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer, Julian Treuherz, Kenneth Bendiner, and Angela Thirwell

BEAUTIFUL & FOR READING
Earthly Visions: Theology and the Challenges of Art, Timothy J. Gorringe

BEAUTIFUL & QUIRKY
Edward Bawden’s London, Peyton Skipwith and Brian Webb

DEFINITIVE
Gabriel von Max, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker

DEFINITIVE & BEAUTIFUL
The History of Rome, Jacqueline Champeaux

DEFINITIVE
Art in Renaissance Italy, John T. Paoletti and Gary M. Radke (Revised and updated)

DEFINITIVE
Alexandre Cabanel: The Tradition of Beauty, Andreas Bluhm (Editor)

BEAUTIFUL, DEFINITIVE, SCHOLARLY
Antoine Watteau: The Drawings, Louis-Antoine Prat and Pierre Rosenberg

DEFINITIVE
Chinese Export Ceramics, Rose Kerr and Luisa Mengoni

BEAUTIFUL & QUIRKY
Albertus Seba: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, Dr Irmgard / Willmann Msch, Rainer Willmann, Irmgard Musch, Irmgard Musch, Rainer Willmann

BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY, DEFINITIVE
Sir John Gilbert, Spike Bucklow, Sally Woodcock, Mark Bills, Nicola Bown, Kathleen Froyen, Paul Goldman, Vivien Knight, Caroline Oliver, Neil Rhind, Libby Sheldon, Timothy Wilcox

SCHOLARLY, BEAUTIFUL & DEFINITIVE

Vision and the Visionary in Raphael, Christian K. Kleinbub

BEAUTIFUL
Baghdad Arts Deco: Architectural Brickwork, 1920-1950, Caelilia Pieri

SCHOLARLY, READING
Romanov Riches: Russian Writers and Artists Under the Tsars, Solomon Volkov

BEAUTIFUL, DIFINITIVE, SCHOLARLY
Russian Silver in America: Surviving the Melting Pot, Anne Odom

SCHOLARLY
The Culture of Regionalism: Art, Architecture and International Exhibitions in France, Germany and Spain, 1890-1939, EricStorm

SCHOLARLY, QUIRKY
The Artist and the Warrior: Military History through the Eyes of the Masters, Theodore K. Rabb

BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY
Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power & Brilliance, Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell and Lucy Pelz

DEFNITIVE, BEAUTIFUL
Antonio López García: Paintings and Sculpture, Francisco Calvo Serraller, Miguel Delibes, Antonio López García

BEAUTIFUL, SCHOLARLY, DEFINITIVE
The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries, Miguel Angel de Bunes Ibarra, Donald J. La Rocca, Dalila Rodrigues, Yvan Maes de Wit

 

 

EAGERLY AWAITED IN 2012

 

DEFINITIVE & BEAUTIFUL
Gabriel Metsue: Life and Work, A Catalogue Raisonne, Adriaan Waiboer

DEFINITIVE & BEAUTIFUL
Elegance and Refinement: The Still-life Paintings of Willem van Aelst, Tanya Paul, James Clifton, Julie Berger Hochstrasser, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.

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§849 · December 8, 2011 · Books, On the Shelf · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , · [Print]

7 Comments to “Best Art Books of 2011, According to Bearded Roman”

  1. Hels says:

    Thanks for the great list. I have two, very different favourites.

    1. “Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates” is important because that was how many young modernists received early commissions eg The Vienna Secession.

    2. Russian Silver in America: Surviving the Melting Pot. Because I love Russian culture and because I am besotted with early silver art.

  2. Thanks. Those two are way up on my list too.

  3. H Niyazi says:

    Many thanks for this wonderful list! I’d also add two more for the Renaissance:

    Marcia Hall’s “The Sacred Image in the Age of Art” and Alexander Nagel’s “The Controversy of Renaissance Art” – I’d define them as “ground breaking”

    Kind Regards
    H

  4. Gail Berry says:

    Micah … I follow your beautiful blog and this post may have just cost me hundreds (thousands) of $$. The glory of these books and your posts makes me want to go, occasionally, to a quiet place and just sit, read, absorb and contemplate beautiful “things” that are in the world. In fact … I just put that at the top of my new year’s resolution list!!

  5. [...] Best Art Books of 2011, According to Bearded Roman [...]

  6. Lauren says:

    I am in love with your blog. So unbelievably happy I stumbled across it.

  7. Paula says:

    What an amazing list, I feel like I want to read everything on it! Thanks a lot for the recommendations.

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