Which Books Shaped Your Art History?

I’ve just received my copy of the The Books that Shaped Art History in the mail and have already begun to dip into it. It promises to be a fascinating read. The book consists of essays by various authors on sixteen “key” art historical texts, several of which I will now have to add to my library.

Below, I’ve listed all sixteen books covered by the volume. (Alternatively, you can click through the scans of the title pages, above.)

1. Emile Mâle: L’art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France: Etude sur l’iconographie du Moyen Age et sur ses sources d’inspiration (1898). [Religious Art in France in the XIII Century: A Study in Medieval Iconography and its Sources of Inspiration.]

2. Bernard Berenson: The Drawings of the Florentine Painters Classified, Criticised and Studied as Documents in the History and Appreciation of Tuscan Art, with a Copious Catalogue Raisonné (1903).

3. Heinrich Wölfflin: Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Das Problem der Stilentwicklung in der neueren Kunst (1915). [Principles of Art History: The Problem of the Development of Style in Later Art.]

4. Roger Fry: Cézanne: A Study of His Development (1927).

5. Nikolaus Pevsner: Pioneers of the Modern Movement from William Morris to Walter Gropius (1936).

6. Alfred H. Barr, Jr.: Matisse: His Art and His Public (1951).

7. Erwin Panofsky: Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character(1953).

8. Kenneth Clark: The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art (1956).

9. E. H. Gombrich: Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (1960).

10. Clement Greenberg: Art and Culture: Critical Essays (1961).

11. Francis Haskell: Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations Between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque (1963).

12. Michael Baxandall: Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style (1972).

13. T. J. Clark: Image of the People: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution (1973).

14. Svetlana Alpers: The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century (1983).

15. Rosalind Krauss: The Originality of the Avant Garde and Other Modernist Myths (1985).

16. Hans Belting: Bild und Kult: Eine Geschichte des Bildes vor dem Zeitalter (1990). [Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art.]

All but one of the featured books are from the Twentieth Century, so the Art History we are talking about here largely overlaps with the history of The Burlington Magazine (founded in 1903), which is where the essays appeared a couple of years ago. (You can read one of them, Christopher Woods piece on Gombrich’s Art and Illusion, here.) But this emphasis also makes sense from an institutional point of view. It was only in the last century that Art History became firmly established as an academic discipline in British and American universities.

In their introductory material, Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard, the volume’s editors, elaborate a little on how these books were chosen from an “initial list of about thirty volumes” (p.5) and mention some of these other contenders (pp.18-19). Naturally, readers will want to argue with their final choices and, in particular, will wonder why some of their favourite texts aren’t included.

And so I ask you: which of these texts shaped your own Art History? Or, if they weren’t all included, which books would you like to see in some hypothetical second volume of The Books that Shaped Art History?

Itself an attractively designed and printed book, The Books that Shaped Art History also inevitably makes one wonder whether the traditional book will continue to be such an essential vehicle of art historical debate. And, if not, what will take its place?