How to Read a Painting: Lessons from the Old Masters by Patrick de Rynck

A nice book for art snobs such as myself who can never know enough about old paintings. Each painting gets two pages explaining the symbolism of certain objects, who the people represent, why the painter arranged the scene a certain way, the Biblical/mythological influences, etc. There’s a wide range of paintings in the book, from very famous (of course The Mona Lisa is in here, because people can’t stop wetting their pants over the damn thing), to the more obscure. The book starts with Maesta by Duccio di Buoninsegna (roughly 1255 AD) and ends with The Third of May, 1808 by Francisco de Goya. The descriptions and background information on the paintings and artists could probably stand to be a little more in-depth, but the book works well as a nice crash-course in fine art.

(modern art, obviously, is not included in the book, which as far as I’m concerned is a huge plus. Duchamp and his stupid toilet can go to hell.)

Verdict: three out of five stars

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