The Heritage of Apelles
Volume 3 in Gombrich's influential series of essays on the Renaissance.
E H Gombrich
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The third volume of E H Gombrich's seminal essays on the Renaissance has the classical tradition as its central theme. Apelles, the most famous painter of ancient Greece, was said to have combined perfect beauty with supreme skill in imitating the appearances of nature. These twin ideals of perfect beauty and perfect imitation of nature, which were inherited from classical antiquity and remained unchallenged as the cornerstone of art until the twentieth century, form the starting-point for these learned and always stimulating essays.
Whether discussing the rendering of light and lustre, the working methods of Leonardo da Vinci or the principles of criticism, the author's analyses and interpretations are underpinned by a deep conviction that, despite the apparent abandonment of the Renaissance ideals in the twentieth century, questions about traditions, values and standards are still of fundamental importance. This wider concern gives these essays a continuing vitality, not only for students but also for anyone interested in art and culture.
Sir Ernst Gombrich was one of the greatest and least conventional art historians of his age, achieving fame and distinction in three separate spheres: as a scholar, as a popularizer of art, and as a pioneer of the application of the psychology of perception to the study of art. His best-known book, The Story of Art - first published 50 years ago and now in its sixteenth edition - is one of the most influential books ever written about art. His books further include The Sense of Order (1979) and The Preference for the Primitive (2002), as well as a total of 11 volumes of collected essays and reviews.
Gombrich was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London in November 2001. He came to London in 1936 to work at the Warburg Institute, where he eventually became Director from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. He won numerous international honours, including a knighthood, the Order of Merit and the Goethe, Hegel and Erasmus prizes.
Gifted with a powerful mind and prodigious memory, he was also an outstanding communicator, with a clear and forceful prose style. His works are models of good art-historical writing, and reflect his humanism and his deep and abiding concern with the standards and values of our cultural heritage.