Books on art history

How is your art history knowledge? Need a refresher course? See below for some of our recent recommendations.


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This is Not Just a Painting by Bernard Lahire

How do we decide which paintings are valuable? In Bernard Lahire’s This is Not Just a Painting, he takes a deep dive into the history of one such painting – The Flight into Egypt. Thought to be painted in 1657, the painting had been lost for three centuries and passed from family to family who had no idea of its worth, until finally, it was bought by the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon for 17 million euros. How is it that what seemed to be just an ordinary canvas could be transformed into a masterpiece, that a decorative object could become a national treasure?


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The Last Leonardo by Ben Lewis

In 2017, Leonardo da Vinci’s small oil painting, the Salvator Mundi, was sold at auction for $450m. It now has the lofty title of the world’s most expensive painting. This was in fact the dazzling finale to an adventure story about a search for lost treasure – art dealers had been searching for this particular painting for around 200 years. The Last Leonardo is a look at the story of the search for this painting, taking us from Leonardo’s studio in Renaissance Italy; to the court of Charles I and the English Civil War; to Holland, Moscow and Louisiana; to the galleries, salerooms and restorer’s workshop as the painting slowly, painstakingly, emerged from obscurity.


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30,000 Years of Art, edited by Phaidon

If you’re interested in art history, this is really a must-have book, arranged in chronological order, no less, and celebrating the vast range and diversity of human artistry. With its hot pink cover and compact size as well, it’s a delightful and refreshing addition to your bookshelf. Not just an exploration of our art history, this is also an insightful look into different cultures and peoples from all over the world. An illustrated timeline, full index and extensive glossary of schools and movements make 30,000 Years of Art an indispensable volume in any art library.


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Art & Queer Culture by Catherine Lord

Update your knowledge of queer culture in relation to art with this fascinating survey compiled by Catherine Lord. Art & Queer Culture is a comprehensive and definitive survey of artworks that have constructed, contested, or otherwise responded to alternative forms of sexuality. This is not just restricted to artists who strictly identify as gay or lesbian, but instead traces the shifting possibilities and constraints of sexual identity that have provided visual artists with a rich creative resource over the last 130 years – and does so in an accessible, authoritative voice, and with a wealth of rarely-seen imagery.


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The Short Story of Modern Art by Susie Hodge

Why do people like Andy Warhol? Who is Yayoi Kusama? Through the lens of 50 key works, Susie Hodge explores the how, when and why of The Short Story of Modern Art, linking them to the most important themes, techniques and movements of modern art. If you’re well-versed in classicism and your Renaissance heavyweights, but need more education in your Warhols and Courbets, then this is the book for you.

The Last Leonardo

The Last Leonardo

Ben Lewis

$32.99Buy now

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