Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

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Joaneath Spicer, ed.
New Haven: Yale University Press in association with The Walters Art Museum and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1997. 480 pp.; 90 color ills.; 206 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0884010937)
The study of Dutch art presents a particular challenge: How best to organize the material? The extraordinary rate of pictorial production, at a high level of craft, in the northern Netherlands in the seventeenth century, the profusion of first- and second-rank masters, the expansion of the genres, and the existence of specialized local markets conspire to make the task of encompassing discussion difficult. This is true enough for a survey book, but takes on even greater importance in the... Full Review
October 26, 1998
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Ernst van de Wetering
Exh. cat. Amsterdam University Press, 1997. 340 pp.; 201 color ills.; 134 b/w ills. Cloth €72.50 (0520226682)
Albert Blankert, ed.
Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1997. 462 pp. Cloth $59.00 (9040099812)
For a snapshot of the dominant directions of current Rembrandt research, particularly under the leadership of senior Dutch scholars, two recent publications provide a sensitive vision. Their very titles signal the degree of adulation accorded to the painter Rembrandt, a solitary "genius," whose wide-ranging influence, or "impact" diffused outward to a circle of talented but lesser painters who followed in his wake. Emphasis is on distinctive, individual artistic production in both books,... Full Review
October 1, 1998
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Anne van Buren, James Marrow, and Silvana Pettenati
Lucerne: Commentary Lucerne, 1996. 703 pp.; 8 color ills.; 163 b/w ills.
The appearance of a facsimile volume (costing around six thousand dollars) of the celebrated, partially destroyed "Turin-Milan Hours" (Turin, Museo Civico d'Arte Antico, inv. no. 47) is reason enough to rejoice for scholars, who would otherwise probably never have close contact with these celebrated miniatures, some of which (controversially) have been attributed to Jan van Eyck. Now there is still more reason for celebration: the accompanying commentary volume has appeared in three languages... Full Review
October 1, 1998
Sylvain Laveissière
New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1998. 344 pp.; 148 color ills.; 255 b/w ills. (0810965208)
Exhibition schedule: Grand Palais, Paris, September 26, 1997–January 12, 1998; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 10–June 7, 1998
This retrospective devoted to Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758–1823) begins with his Sign of the Hatmaker Charton (1774), a naive artifact painted before the artist left Cluny in 1774 for Dijon to study. Who knowing just this homely object could have imagined that its creator would do some of the lushest nudes of both sexes made by any artist? After then going on to Paris, Prud'hon in the 1780s spent three years, three months in Rome. Returning to Paris in 1788, after failing to compete with... Full Review
October 1, 1998
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Carolyn L. Connor
Princeton University Press, 1998. 16 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Cloth $79.50 (0691048185)
Online readers, and especially those not involved in the "Ivory Wars" clearly set out in the endnotes of The Color of Ivory, should be aware of at least two things before embarking on this review. First, that seven years ago Carolyn Connor wrote an article on traces of color on the Joshua plaques in the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[1] interesting because it enlarged greatly on Kurt Weitzmann's observation in 1930 that their "rosette bands show traces of red and blue color of later date... Full Review
October 1, 1998
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David Bordwell
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. 322 pp. Paper $60.00 (0674634292)
A person can learn quite a bit by watching neighbors working on a similar task, and David Bordwell's new book on the status of visual style in film history raises anew the issue for art historians, who supposedly invented the concept. Bordwell is a distinguished historian of film at the University of Wisconsin, who has authored and co-authored (usually with Kristin Thompson) monographs (The Cinema of Eisenstein), period histories (The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode... Full Review
October 1, 1998
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Thomas E. A. Dale
Princeton University Press, 1997. 282 pp.; 8 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $140.00 (0691011753)
With remarkable visual clarity, the apse mosaics of the church of San Marco in Venice proclaim the issues involved in the monograph of Thomas Dale. As Otto Demus discusses and illustrates in his magisterial volumes, four saints stand there beneath an enthroned Christ. Peter and Mark share the central axis. Peter hands Mark his Gospel; Mark acknowledges the gift by his extended right hand and displays it in his left hand. On the right side of the apse, St. Hermagoras turns toward Mark and his... Full Review
October 1, 1998
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Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey
Princeton University Press, 1996. 374 pp.; 12 color ills.; 165 b/w ills. Cloth $95.00 (0691050678)
As the authors point out in their preface (and this is a book in which preface and introduction deserve the same reader's attention as its insightful text): "This book has had a long gestation . . . developing over continuous years of thinking, teaching, and writing about Poussin in particular and the art of the seventeenth century in general" (xvii). This is both an honest proposal and a fair warning; the book in hand is nearly as much about important general artistic developments and... Full Review
September 1, 1998
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Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener
Trans. Pascal Griener and Cecilia Hurley. Princeton University Press, 1997. 256 pp.; 70 color ills.; 190 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0691005168)
This sumptuously illustrated volume on Hans Holbein the Younger is a welcome contribution to the scholarship on this important artist. Holbein is known for precise rendering of color, texture, and physical likeness in his celebrated portraits of wealthy merchants, aristocracy, and royalty. In addition to such renowned portraits as Thomas More of 1527 and the so-called French Ambassadors of 1533, among others, Bätschmann and Griener also include Holbein's less familiar book... Full Review
September 1, 1998
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