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Sister Wendy's Story of Painting: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Art [Hardcover]

Sister Wendy Beckett
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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The Story of Painting The Story of Painting 4.6 out of 5 stars (11)
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Book Description

29 Sep 1994
Through more than 450 masterpieces, the author unfolds the story of 800 years of Western painting from Giotto, the Renaissance and Impressionism, to Pop Art and the present day. Sister Wendy scrutinizes in depth 50 of the world's most famous paintings, among them Picasso's "The Nude Woman", Monet's "The Waterlily Pond", and Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus". Using enlarged details, she reveals hidden meanings, explains content, and gives us a clearer understanding of the influences that inspired the artists.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd., London; 1st Edition edition (29 Sep 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751301337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751301335
  • Product Dimensions: 28 x 22.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nun of that, now... 29 Jun 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
How bizarre...
...and yet, how wonderful. Who would have ever thought that a nun going through the museum would have (a) been interesting, (b) been publishable, (c) been television-worthy, or (d) been within the realm of credible imaginings? And yet, here is the proof, on my coffee table. Sister Wendy's smiling face, next to a scowling Vincent, greets me each day with my morning cocoa.
This is a book to be savoured. It cannot, like the morning cocoa, be rushed and enjoyed. This must take time. Not because the text is dense or confusing--indeed, it is not. It is lively, witty, historical, accessible, all that one could want in a book on art.
But, mostly, it is exquisitely visual in layout. Everything is photographed and reproduced in stunning colour and low-gloss format to make the pages vibrant and durable yet easily seen. Care has gone into the production of this volume. None of the art is reduced to black and white, but rather presented in glorious colour. With over 800 images in under 400 pages, this is a feast for the eyes. Each page is dominated by art, not text. That makes for slow moving, like reading a museum..
Sister Wendy Beckett takes us on an historical tour of painting (in the European theatre of history), beginning with prehistoric cave-art and drawings, leading up to modern and post-modern artists.
She takes representative pieces, such as the Bosch painting of Death and the Miser to illustrate points of colour, detail, composition, and story. Some paintings have complex stories (such as this one), others have simple composition (such as the `innocently disadvantaged' Mona Lisa) which give endless speculation as to the meaning.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By "mand9"
Format:Hardcover
This book is a must for all art history students. It traces the beginnings, through to a brief look at modern art. I am currently studying art history and have found this book, essential to my research on mythology and biblical myths and information. Sister Wendy Beckett suceeds in presenting this book in a clear and non-jargon manner, easily understood and very informative. Selected areas of the book, look at particular paintings and how they are constructed as well as the meanings behind them. The biblical references throughout early paintings are explained fully and i found this especially appealling. This book has certainly helped me, no end in my studies, and look forward to other titles by the author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nun of that, now... 23 Nov 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover
How bizarre...
...and yet, how wonderful. Who would have ever thought that a nun going through the museum would have (a) been interesting, (b) been publishable, (c) been television-worthy, or (d) been within the realm of credible imaginings? And yet, here is the proof, on my coffee table. Sister Wendy's smiling face, next to a scowling Vincent, greets me each day with my morning cocoa.
This is a book to be savoured. It cannot, like the morning cocoa, be rushed and enjoyed. This must take time. Not because the text is dense or confusing--indeed, it is not. It is lively, witty, historical, accessible, all that one could want in a book on art.
But, mostly, it is exquisitely visual in layout. Everything is photographed and reproduced in stunning colour and low-gloss format to make the pages vibrant and durable yet easily seen. Care has gone into the production of this volume. None of the art is reduced to black and white, but rather presented in glorious colour. With over 800 images in under 400 pages, this is a feast for the eyes. Each page is dominated by art, not text. That makes for slow moving, like reading a museum.
Sister Wendy Beckett takes us on an historical tour of painting (in the European theatre of history), beginning with prehistoric cave-art and drawings, leading up to modern and post-modern artists.
She takes representative pieces, such as the Bosch painting of Death and the Miser to illustrate points of colour, detail, composition, and story. Some paintings have complex stories (such as this one), others have simple composition (such as the 'innocently disadvantaged' Mona Lisa) which give endless speculation as to the meaning.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never ending story of painting 24 April 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is art book to be treasured and look at again and again. Of course it is subjective interpretation of paintings but it opens readers mind to do individual guesses.
For example: is the candle on the picture just a candle or a symbol of the spirit? We can't know for sure over 500 years later. But each of us can decide for himself
what does it mean. Therefore we need writers to explain visual art to us, to feed our imagination.
THE STORY OF PAINTING is beautifully laid out and ventures gently into literature of the period depicted in the artwork.
I am looking foreword to lazy hours with this perfect friend "The story of painting".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Margot 11 Dec 2011
By Margot
Format:Hardcover
An excellent starting point for art appreciation. I do not always agree with Sister Wendy's comments but we approach works from a different perspective. I am not a celebate or a Christian and this must have an effect! However her views are well worth a good read. The periods and paintings are well chosen and the comments intelligent without being too highbrow.

I paid a penny plus postage for a book that I shall use regularly. What excellent value.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book. A must have.
Best buy is a used old version. Even though the the design of earliest editions are a bit dated the content is the same so why paying top money for the newest version when you can... Read more
Published 8 months ago by S. Humphreys
5.0 out of 5 stars sister Wendy's Story of Painting
Sister Wendy explains the pictures in a clear and understandable way, which is ideal for a novice like me who would like to know more about art through the ages. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ruth
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted
I had a copy of this book given to me as a gift by my brother (now deceased). It was a precious possession which sadly was lost last year when someone sank the converted barge on... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Diana at The Saker
5.0 out of 5 stars She brings Art to life!
Sister Wendy's 'Story of Painting' was a book I discovered when I was in the doldrums.
I had seen one television programme on art presented by her which convinced me she... Read more
Published 13 months ago by P. Worthington
4.0 out of 5 stars SISTER WENDYS'S SEXY BOOK!
I found this book very helpful, in guiding me through 'seeing' and reading art; to understand it properly. Though i thougt this bich has an attitude. Read more
Published 19 months ago by warnkshaft
5.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table book that gets read
You know how it is - "everyone" is buying it so one must buy it, and 2 pages in you realise that it really is one big hype.

And then you discover Sister Wendy. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by Combat Wombat
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