Early Renaissance

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Very Good
Paperback, 224 pages
Penguins Books, 1967
1979 Reprint
Style and Civilization

Humanity and the human form dominate Early Renaissance art--from the intensely realistic figures sculpted by Donatello and portrayed by Van Eyck to the sophisticated beings created by Dürer or Leonardo.  New techniques, discovery of visual perspective, fresh interest in the antique past, all combined to make art a fully rational activity, incorporating truths of human nature and the universe.  In place of Gothic mystery came clarity - reflected in the calmly ordered space of Renaissance buildings.  This book emphasizes that persistent preference for sober, logical, harmonious art - true to experience and yet optimistic - which characterizes the Early Renaissance.

About the Author

Sir Michael Vincent Levey (1927-2008) was an English art historian and was the director of the National Gallery from 1973 to 1986.  In 1951 Levey joined the National Gallery as assistant to the Keeper, Sir Martin Davies. He combined administrative duties with scholarly work, producing his first catalogue, on the Gallery's 18th-century Italian paintings, in 1956. In the 1960s, affordable art books with colour reproductions for the general reader began to appear, and Levey was commissioned to write an overview of Western painting for Thames & Hudson's World of Art series. The resulting book, A Concise History of Painting: From Giotto to Cézanne (1962), remains a classic overview of European art history from the introduction of perspective in Italy to the beginnings of modern art at the start of the 20th century.