Words for Pictures

Seven Papers on Renaissance Art and Criticism

Michael Baxandall

View Inside Price: $24.00

February 15, 2011
208 pages, 6 x 9
11 b/w + 25 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300176780

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The Italian Renaissance was a creative period for art criticism as well as for art itself. The early efforts to give verbal accounts of visual representations and their quality throw light not only on the art of the period but also on art criticism at any time. This collection of papers by art historian and critic Michael Baxandall represents his thinking over the past forty years on the relation between language and art. He offers seven thought-provoking pieces, three of which are new and written specifically for this book. Focusing on works of the fifteenth century, Baxandall shows with fresh insight how words match the experience of looking at paintings and sculptures.
The author introduces the basic Renaissance framework for art criticism and proceeds to explore various humanist critical writings of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. He concludes with a major new essay on Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection of Christ in which he probes the visual experience of a painting that criticism seeks to verbalize.

Michael Baxandall is Emeritus Professor of the History of Art, University of California, Berkeley, and Emeritus Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition, Warburg Institute, University of London.

“A brilliant book on Renaissance art. What I liked about it was the way it made you look with fresh eyes at familiar artists such as Piero della Francesca for example.”—Marina Warner, Financial Times