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February 9, 2012
Ingrid R. Vermeulen Picturing Art History: The Rise of the Illustrated History of Art in the Eighteenth Century Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011. 359 pp.; 150 b/w ills. Paper $69.50 (9789089640314)
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Ingrid Vermeulen undertakes an important self-reflexive task in Picturing Art History: the examination of the transition from unillustrated to illustrated texts about art. Surprisingly, that transformation had little to do with technological changes. Using three specific publications as examples, she argues that eighteenth-century scholars increasingly came to conceive of the artistic past not as a series of biographies of artists, but rather as a seamless “chain” of artworks in which historical progress can, and indeed...