BY IRIS CONLAY
THE GOTHIC IMAGE, by Emile Male (Fontana Library. 12s. 6d.).
THIS account .of 13th century French religions art is more than fifty years old but it deserves a permanent place among the classic works of art history. '
The author. having thoroughly studied the sculpture. painting and glass of the churches scattered all over the country, shows how in every detail of his work the artist of that time followed a scheme laid down by tradition. He did not invent a symbolism of his own. it existed and was understood by the ordinary man, It had been distilled from the gospels and the early legends of God. Christ and the saints and then handed on from generation to generation.
Thus, when he came to church the medieval worshipper was encouraged to look around. No demure, downcast glances in the medieval church. Everything therein taught a lesson. The unlettered learnt their dogma. their scripture. their history and even elementary sciences and crafts from the walls of the church.
The artist and craftsman today, working in any capacity for the churches, ought to own this book. .ts wealth of forgotten symbolism provides a valuable quarry. The art of the symbol is due for revival and the modern nonhgurattve artist is in need of just such a system.
THE ART OF CONSTANTINOPLE, an introduction to Byzantine an by John Beckwith (Phaidon, 32s. 6d.).
FEW people are precise about the term Byzantine art. It is used vaguely to describe only the eastern Christian religious art of the ikon and then left at that. Its secular aspect, as a courtly art of the Byzantine Empire with its headquarters in Constantinople. is much less understood. John Beckwith's text, necessarily compressed. is difficult to read because it contains so much history but I know no other book which puts the development of the formal arts of the Bosphorus so concisely.
The illustrations are particularly revealing and the glimpses of the frescoes recently uncovered in the church of St. Saviour in Chora, Istanbul, suggest that the time is ripe for a book on these alone.
ART TREASURES FOR AMERICA: Samuel H. Kress Collection (Phaidon, 60s.).
SAMUE L. KRESS. an American merchant. only began collecting pictures and sculpture in the 1930s. His collection today contains over a thousand works of art by the most important European artists Giotto. Duccio, Fre Angelico. Giorgione, Titian, El Greco. Rubens. Ingres mention almost any name" in the history of western art and it will be represe nteo.
A complete catalogue of this amazing collection is being prepared in seven volumes. Meanwhile this book. a kind of "museum between covers", is an anthology taken from the big work. With its commentary on the illustrations. 187 of them mostly in colour. it rapidly covers western art from the Italian primitives to Ingres. The revealing details from the pictures have been selected with understanding and feeling. and the whole book is produced with taste and technical skill.
Very worthwhile to possess since few people have many opportunities to see these originals.
`IHE ARTIST IN BRITAIN FROM THE 8th TO THE 20th CENTURIES, by Edward Osmond (Studio Books, Ills.).
THE artist is a product of his age. This theme is worked out in a most readable account for young people of the stylistic development of British art from its beginnings in the illuminations of the monks up to the present time. 1.ine illustrations and halftone reproductions add considerably to the text. Recommended for school prizes.
THE JOURNAL OF EUGENE DELACROIX, translated by Walter Patch (Evergreen Books, 35s.).
WITH Delacroix. said Andre Stares. modern art began. The Impressionists based their colouelight experiments on a study of Delacroix. Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso also reflect facets of his vision. As an artist he is more and more appreciated today.
As a writer his journal puts him in an important position. It is a sensitive chronicle of his response to his own genius. to the times in which he lived and to the people he lived among. It also is a very moving document Delacroix does not spare himself of the difficulties, disappointments and failures' that even so successful an artist had to meet and overcome.
It is good to have so well-edited an English version. But this flabby. over-grown and expensive paperback ts quite the most awkwardto-handle hook ever produced.
CANONIC DESIGN IN ENGLISH MEDIEVAL ARCHITECTURE. by B. G. Morgan (Liverpool University Press. 2 guineas.).
I N this highly specialised study of English medieval architecture the author is concerned to show the existence of a tradition of design based on the geometrical principles of the Master Masons' Square. Students of the Gothic will value the original research which has been put into the preparation of this well-reasoned thesis taking, as it does. theories of earlie, authorities like Lethaby a long step forward.