Saturday, October 25, 2014


Yes, this book is for children and fortunate is the young one who receives it.  Again, yes, this is a book intended for children but this adult is keeping it for the sheer joy and pleasure of leafing through it.  Each time I return I see something new in the beautiful full page reproductions or learn something more about a particular artist’s life.  For me, it is a privilege to be able to peruse Lives of the Great Artists again and again.

Author Ayres who studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Sotheby’s Institute in London introduces young readers to twenty of the world’s greatest artists from Giotto (1267-1337) to Van Gogh (1853-1890).   Each artist is accompanied by his life story, how and where he worked, and lavish reproductions of his works.

Also included are fascinating chronologies of the artists pinpointing not only dates of birth but where the artists lived, who asked them to create something and why, and yearly notations of output and events.  There is, of course, a Glossary and a listing of where major collections of the artists’ works may be found.  It is hard to imagine more comprehensive coverage of these artists.

The author’s Introduction will be especially helpful to young readers as she explains how the works of art came to be - that many were intended for churches, palaces or private homes.  Or, they were commissioned by rich powerful people who commissioned paintings of Bible stories to show how religious they were or by those who wanted paintings of their holdings and their families as evidence of their wealth.

            Lives Of the Great Artists would be a perfect gift for a young person to receive before visiting a museum.  For those who love art it is simply the perfect gift.

- Gail Cooke

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