There’s no shortage of books on the Old Masters, from scholarly interpretations to coffee-table collections of works.
Think of these, therefore, as manageable and affordable primers that contain enough biographical and analytical information to satisfy without overwhelming and which ultimately stand or fall on the curatorial ability of the author – to put it simply, how good is he at making a truly representative selection of the artist’s work?
There’s no definite answer to that question, as long as styles and chronology are respected (it’s worth noting that the illustrations appear in date order and, indeed, are dated). Your own favourites may be omitted, potentially leaving you shouting at the page. On the other hand, sometimes someone else’s view can lend perspective to your own – or maybe you just want the heavy lifting done for you.
However, it does work and, while not quite at pocket-money prices, these are genuinely good value and sit nicely in what is – let’s not be shy about this – a crowded market.
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