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Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks) [Paperback]

Michael Baxandall
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 May 1988 Oxford Paperbacks
This book is both an introduction to fifteenth-century Italian painting, and a primer in how to read social history out of the style of pictures. It examines the commercial practice of the early Renaissance picture, trade in contracts, letters, and accounts; and it explains how the visual skills and habits evolved in the daily life of any society enter into its painters' style. Renaissance painting is related for instance to experience of such activities as preaching, dancing, and gauging barrels. This second edition contains an appendix, the original Latin and Italian texts referred to throughout the book, giving the student access to all the relevant, authentic sources.

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Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (Oxford Paperbacks) + Art in Renaissance Italy 1350-1500 (Oxford History of Art)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 2 edition (19 May 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019282144X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192821447
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.7 x 0.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author


Michael Baxandall, Reader of Renaissance Studies at the Warburg Institute, University of London, is also the author of Giotto and the Orators.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I. A FIFTEENTH-CENTURY painting is the deposit of a social relationship. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Art Lover's Gem 14 Jun 2002
By RubyRed
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a fabulous book! Small, compact & portable but with a wealth of information. Gives a comprehensive guide as to what to look for in the paintings and the background to them. Subjects covered include patronage, value of a master's skill, convention of biblical characters, body positions, importance of dance movement, public v private display and much more. The English is excellent and the style fluid and dynamic - you just have to read on. I know I will use this book for many years to come.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lapis at 4 ducats the ounce... 28 July 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As well as being a splendid introduction to the paintings and the philosophy behind them, this book is particularly good on the relationship between the artists and their rich patrons, and between the artists and their materials. It's full of intriguing details. Why, for example, pure blue is so rare as well as so rich -- at this period, all the lapis lazuli that European painters could use was mined from one mine (somewhere in Afghanistan) and imported solely through Venice... So it's no surprise to see patrons putting clauses in their contracts with their artists: "use the best blue at 4 ducats the ounce; don't try palming me off with any 2-ducat rubbish!"
If this is the sort of thing that makes you go "yippee!" and grin, as the past comes alive for you, then this is definitely the book for you.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read 3 Mar 2004
Format:Paperback
This is one of those books you can read (after believing you have a good grip on the subject) to discover how much you have missed! Excellent for those starting to study Italian fifteenth century art and very readable.
Almost uniquely among fine art books this one fits in a jacket pocket as it is a standard sized paperback. I disagree with the other reviewer who complained that it was lacking in illustrations (it isn't) but its small size does make the provision of sensible illustrations impossible and if you have other books on the period (or can use the Internet or a public library) you should have no trouble finding illustrations of any of the works mentioned.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting perspective 25 Aug 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I very much like this book. Although obviously an academic text, it's written in an easy-to-read style that's not overwhelming. I've studied this period of art history at some length, but the information provided in this brief work provides a fresh perspective, and I've seen some of my favourite paintings in a fresh light. I especially like the chapter on the 'language' of body posture - the idea that every posture had a specific meaning which viewers of that period would have immediately understood. It's made me go back and look at lots of works from the period and 'translate' their gestures! Great fun for lovers of art history! Recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 24 Nov 2003
By Caterina VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This tiny book is immensely helpful and interesting. It focuses on the ways in which critics in the fifteenth century judged paintings, and provides tools which can be used in analysing paintings from pretty much any period. So many art books are pretentious or difficult: this one is really informative and enlightening. It is educational in the best sense of the word.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars concise, accessible,erudite. 13 April 2002
Format:Paperback
Anyone interested in early renaissance art must read this book it is immensely readable,brief but illuminating.It contains lots of source material well translated.Its only drawback is its lack of big colour plates, but everything in the book is so 'choice' that they may be superfluous.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars restrictions on artistic expression! 21 July 2011
By Juanita
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brilliant pocketsize book giving interesting insight into the formation of contracts between 'clients' and artist in 15th c Italy. The end pictorial portrayals most frequently depended on 'what the customer wants and what he wants to pay' for - requisite materials including panels, lapis lazuli, gold, silver and other resources including, of course, the painter's labour!

To think these beautiful works of art can be the mere result of commercial transactions i.e. client's strictures and money available, not to mention religious or social 'pressures' applying at the time. One wonders what would an artist have produced if given free rein to express himself with his own subject, own chosen materials and the necessary time/money?

A great introduction to art history for a prospective student, but also for any body with a general interest in painting or art in general. Shame the majority of the illustrations are not in colour - but buy anyway!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of value to all interested readers 22 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
Time may fly and the author may have long passed away, this book is still a relevant reading for everybody interested in Italian Renaissance art.

The miracle of this publication is that it reaches to both ends of the spectrum of potential audience.

It is very accessible, with general considerations which places the topic in a wider context and situates the arguments and what was at stake in 15th-century Italy.

At the same time, it is also full of interesting information to refresh the mind of a more advanced reader.

Since it is very concise, it is also very easy to handle and assimilate.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy
A short but easily accessible book about a complex period of history and a time when art and artists were developing beyond simply being the product of the artisan
Published 5 months ago by Miss Lynn Mead
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
this little booki might be small but it has lots of important information which will be very helpful when I'm studying my next OU Module
Published 8 months ago by Jill Dian
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST for studying Renaissance Art!
This little book throws an interesting light onto Renaissance painting, it deals with the social history of the artist and the patron, something that is missed in most books... Read more
Published 9 months ago by KM Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Painting and Experience in 15th century Italy
An excellent introduction to painting in 15th century Italy for those with no knowledge of the subject. Easy to carry round.
Published 14 months ago by Lorraine
3.0 out of 5 stars Th content was what I expected and hoped for
I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. However, I was disappointed by this particular copy as it was not as described. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Patricia Egan
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and informative
I was reading this for my History degree and needed a good book on Renaissance art. Baxandall's book is very easy to read and had specifics on patrons and artists, and the way art... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amber_Caitlin
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting back-to-life history of Quattrocento everyday life
The book is fascinating in that it relates an artistic activity like painting to ordinary tasks of common people - when I say common people I mean people who were not artists. Read more
Published on 4 Oct 2011 by Bianca V.
3.0 out of 5 stars Splitting Attractive Hairs
This is the kind of book that History of Art departments throw at you early on in their courses to instil the right respect and awe for the whole academic ritual. Read more
Published on 8 July 2007 by Captain Cook
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