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How to Read a Painting

Decoding, Understanding and Enjoying the Old Masters

Patrick de Rynck

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The perfect companion for art lovers everywhere, How to Read a Painting reveals the Old Masters in a new and richer light


Clues to the meaning of the masterpieces of art history lie in a rich system of symbols, themes and motifs that often elude the modern eye. Without the intimate knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology, folklore and Christian theology so vivid in the minds of the artists and familiar to their public, we often miss the visual hints that gave contemporary meaning to a painting.

How to Read a Painting draws our attention to the imagery and the wonderful, apparently inconsequential details in paintings by Giotto, Botticelli, El Greco, Michelangelo, Rubens, Vermeer, Hogarth, Gainsborough and many more. Brief yet illuminating explanations accompany over 900 colour illustrations, providing the means to interpret and enjoy these and many other works.

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'Easy to follow and a delight to pore over'
Leisure Painter

'An interpretative and an explicatory tour de force … '
The Scotsman

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Flexibound PLC (no jacket)

Size: 24.0 x 16.8 cm

Extent: 384 pp

Publication date: 6 December 2004

ISBN: 9780500512005

About the Author

Patrick de Rynck is a classicist and translator. He is the author of several books, including How to Read a Painting and Understanding Paintings, both published by Thames & Hudson.