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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars10
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 28 October 2007
A highly entertaining and thought provoking book that will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in classical art. This book is full of excellent illustrations and is good value for money. It explodes many myths such as being able to precisely identify works and ascribe them to artists named in classical texts. Often experts disagree on dates for statues by hundreds of years. The identification of the Laocoon with a work described in Pliny is a key example. We want it to be true but what's the evidence?

Another key theme is the importance of copying in the ancient world. A Roman workshop has been found with plaster casts of masterworks. Obviously there was big business in churning out copies of `greatest hits' for the villas of the empire. In the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum 51 bronze and 24 marble satues were found! Often we can find parallel statues where a similar pose of a figure from mythology is used, but each one has its variation on the theme. Because of this it's often impossible to tell whether we are dealing a faithful copy of an original work by Praxiteles for instance, or a Roman variation.

In a lot of ways we see the Greeks through Roman eyes. In fact experts often disagree on whether some works are Greek originals or Roman copies.

Other key topics explored are the ancient arts connections to power, status and sex.
The opening chapter on painting is particularly good. A Greek epigram on a painting by Timomachus of Medea shows how sophisticated the ancient response to art could be. Most of the chapter focuses on Pompeii as this is where most of the surviving painting comes from. But as a relatively insignificant provincial town, how typical were these works and would the best of them be as good works in Rome for instance?

Overall I highly recommend this thought provoking book.
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on 21 March 2014
Incapable of writing a dull sentence: perspicacious, opinionated (no sitting on the fence) and informed: as usual a delight to read.
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on 24 September 2011
The Kindle edition of Beard and Henderson is a serious disappointment. One is paying the same as for the paper book, but with black and white illustrations only, and fairly low-resolution ones at that. This is a serious loss in a textbook of art. Perhaps users of b+w Kindle machines will not miss the colour, but those Kindle customers using colour devices - iPads or laptops - will be seriously disappointed. And I must say that no other Kindle book that I have whose paper original has colour illustrations has been given this black-and-white treatment. There is no mention that this Kindle edition is in black and white. I feel ripped off. Especially as the book itself is particularly good.
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on 16 November 2012
I am rather disappointed with the Kindle edition of thus book as all the illustrations appear to be in black and white! This seriously detracts from the usefulness of the book and it is not what I expected from the listing which shows colour illustrations when you "look inside"
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on 20 October 2014
I already have another in the series and this is just as good. It provides a clear and concise summary and is excellent to either read from cover to cover, or to dip into from time to time.
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on 31 July 2014
A nice read. Although I feel that there are better and more detailed books to read on the subject this is a good starting point.
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on 9 August 2014
Interesting book regarding the interpretation of Classical Art; good means of introduction to the subject.
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on 2 October 2013
Kindle edition of this book a complete con: all the wonderful colour plates of the original are in black and white. Not true of other Oxford Art books, so why this one? Great book; shame the kindle edition a complete con.
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on 26 October 2011
This is a really excellent book which is ideal for my Open University Course Myths in the Greek and Roman Worlds.
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on 19 December 2014
Good, thanks!
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