- Hardcover: 900 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; Slp edition (24 Jun. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857093704
- ISBN-13: 978-1857093704
- Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 7.6 x 30.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Sixteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings, with French Paintings Before 1600 (National Gallery London) Hardcover – 24 Jun 2014
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A milestone in scholarship of Early Netherlandish painting . . . a lasting legacy. Larry Silver, HNA Review of Books (Historians of Netherlandish Art)--Larry Silver "HNA Review of Books ""
Turn to the weakest paintings in the field and we realise that Campbell writes not merely to record but to inform and draw the reader into the debate so that he may take an interest in matters seemingly arcane but that is precisely the purpose of great art history as an academic discipline. This is the perfect catalogue.
Brian Sewell, Evening Standard.
--Brian Sewell"Evening Standard" (12/18/2014)"
"A milestone in scholarship of Early Netherlandish painting . . . a lasting legacy."--Larry Silver, HNA Review of Books (Historians of Netherlandish Art)--Larry Silver "HNA Review of Books "
'Turn to the weakest paintings in the field and we realise that Campbell writes not merely to record but to inform and draw the reader into the debate so that he may take an interest in matters seemingly arcane - but that is precisely the purpose of great art history as an academic discipline. This is the perfect catalogue.'
--Brian Sewell, Evening Standard.
--Brian Sewell"Evening Standard" (12/18/2014)
About the Author
Lorne Campbell was George Beaumont Senior Research Curator at the National Gallery, London, until 2011.
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So instead of the long awaited German paintings being the release of 2014, the National Gallery has delivered a marvelous two volume set, in a handsome green slipcase, and dedicated to eighty-five works in the collection. Not all the pictures therein being sixteenth century Netherlandish, as there are a small number of French paintings (before 1600) also covered by Campbell in equal depth, as an added treat, at the back of the second volume. As with all the recent National Gallery catalogues published by Yale the presentation is excellent, and the books a joy to behold. The quality of the reproductions are first rate, spoiling the reader's eyes with the exquisite beauty of the paintings which one can still, unbelievably, visit for free when not on loan or forming part of another exhibition. Lorne Campbell, author of the previous (equally excellent) volume on the fifteenth century - the same works being designated a 'school' or 'paintings' depending upon the edition - is without any doubt one of the leading world scholars in the field of Early Netherlandish painting, alongside contemporaries like Till-Holger Borchert, but also historians of the past such as Panowsky, Pacht and Friedlander. Indeed, to accord Campbell further and due credit, he should be highly commended for his labours, not just on the high level of knowledge and scholarship that is ever-present in his two catalogues compiled and written for the National Gallery; but that Campbell has also guest curated various other exhibitions (such as 'Rogier van der Weyden: Master of Passions' in 2012, and the ill-fated 'L'héritage de Rogier van der Weyden' in Brussells in 2013) and written other books, catalogues and lengthy articles, whilst clearly working on this one contemporaneously.
Campbell also readily acknowledges and appreciates other scholars' valuable assistance in his compiling of the various articles rather than relegating them to a mere footnote or simply by name in the 'Special Thanks' at the start. For a scholar to so readily and openly acknowledge the help and collaboration of other scholars, is truly is to Campbell's credit. I enjoyed reading the gratitude which is expressed by the author to Valentine Hendericks, herself having written an excellent monograph on Albrecht Bouts, and the fact that she has willingly collaborated despite a disagreement over an attribution.
The catalogue itself shows the richness and wide-ranging selection of works on display in London painted in the low countries (and France) over the course of the sixteenth century. These works range from well-known and recognisable masters such as Bosch, Bruegel, and Mabuse, to various anonymous Masters given equal importance and scope despite the fact that history has robbed us of their names. Reproductions of each painting are testament to how marvelous colour printing has become for readers in the twenty-first century; but in equal quota a tribute to the skill of the artist who created the work back in the sixteenth century. As with the other catalogues issued in this series, the reproduction of each painting is accompanied by a description of the painting, together with a biography of it's artist (or in certain cases the artist upon which the unnamed artist is a follower, &c.) as well a detailed discussion of the painting's subject matter, condition of the work, dimensions, provenance, and an in depth discussion of the work per se. The text itself is written clearly, thoroughly, and in depth without being cumbersome to read. Thankfully, the work has not been written in such a heavily studious tone that would require a lay reader to refer to a dictionary of art history terms, but in equal quota nor is it so “dumbed down” that any reader of a good, sound intellect or a scholar would feel patronised whilst reading it.
Finally, following the catalogue of Netherlandish paintings comes the (added) treat for the reader of the inclusion of the small collection of French paintings before 1600 (apparently started by Humphrey Wine but completed by Campbell). The collection might well be dwarfed in contrast the eponymous Netherlandish, not to mention the vast Italian Renaissance masters on display at the Gallery, but nonetheless masterpieces are to be found therein, and discussed here. Works which include artists such as Corneille de Lyon, Jean Hey, and the Master of Moulins. In certain instance instances Campbell brings scholarship up to date by firmly attributing these works to a specific artist where previously it had just been speculated. It should be noted that the Wilton Diptych is not included in the French section of the catalogue as scholars continue to debate as to whether the work is English or French. However, the work was not included in Judy Egerton's 'The British School' either, so one is left pondering where this 13th/14th century masterpiece will end up being catalogued. Accompanying the entries for the paintings are plentiful details of the works together with x-rays, infra-red photographs, and in-depth but equally fascinating and entertaining facts about the technicalities of the painting under discussion.
In short, one of the best books this year and a credit to the National Gallery. It also demonstrates the division between good scholarship and hackneyed writing that is ever present in every field, and not just art. On a purely personal note, this much awaited work has lived up to and exceeded every hope and expectation I had, certainly after the disappointment of the catalogue to accompany the exhibition of Netherlandish paintings, curated by Paula Nuttall, at the Huntington in the US, and the flimsy cheapo paperback which was issued to accompany the aforementioned, rather forgettable (sadly) exhibition 'Strange Beauty'. Campbell’s work is a truly a jewel in a rather tawdry bibliographic crown of books issued by the National Gallery of late, dealing with its exhibitions, and collections. It should be a benchmark to the high quality and high standards which anyone with a serious interest in art, and in the National Gallery's collection, should expect. One can only hope other works on the collection are released soon - a third volume of Italian Paintings from the Sixteenth Century is listed; but what about a second volume of Fifteenth Century Italian Paintings, or Italian Seventeenth Century Paintings, or French Eighteenth Century Paintings. Although not listed under "Forthcoming", the National Gallery have said on their website that a work on the paintings of the nineteenth century by Sarah Henning is under way too. Admittedly not my period but I would rather see this than a catalogue dedicated to the Impressionists - to me, that one can happily be put on the back-burner for long, long, long time (!)
Finally, it might seem rather extraordinary that the National Gallery has not divided this book into two separate editions, but to that end we, the buyers, are the winners and should be grateful. It could quite easily have been divided into Volume I and Volume II, and each volume cost (at least) £75 as per the other titles in the series; instead the National Gallery has thoughtfully, in these difficult financial times, thought to issue a set of two books (as the spine of a single larger volume, or the readers knees, or both, would surely buckle under the weight) only adding an extra £20 to the RRP for nearly double the number of pages, thereby proving what splendid value for money this set truly is.
The page numbers are displayed on the dust jackets which might appear rather strange at first, but soon thereafter appear the most logical thing to do, given that it makes for easy referencing when referring to the work at hand. The books are rather snugly fitted into their slipcase which initially makes them a little difficult to remove (the silk ribbon attached to the box doesn't really help to remove them either) and I confess to having winced the first few times putting them back in for fear of damaging the dust jackets. But these minor quibbles aside, and given time, the slipcase might ‘relax’ and it will be easier to remove the books from therein. That said, this should not detract from any of the pleasure of enjoying, reading and learning from Campbell's fascinating, informed and readable scholarship.