Cover image for The visual arts : a history
The visual arts : a history
Honour, Hugh.
Personal Author:
Fifth edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry N. Abrams, 1999.
Physical Description:
928 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
Subject Term:
Added Author:
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Material Type
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N5300 .H68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The Visual Arts is recognized as the most up-to-date and wide-ranging history of art available in one volume. Now completely revised, it's more comprehensive and compelling than ever.Authors Honour and Fleming take readers from pre-history to Post-Modernism, exploring all the familiar movements and masterworks but also delving into non-Western traditions, architecture, and the decorative arts. The incisive text (incorporating new research and discoveries), more than 1,350 illustrations (nearly 20% new), maps (all redrawn), time charts (all redesigned), and sidebars (including the new "Concepts" and "Urban Development") make this an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to understand art in context.

Author Notes

Patrick Hugh Honour was born in Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom on September 26, 1927. He received a bachelor's degree in 18th-century English literature from St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. In the mid-1950's, he started writing and editing with John Fleming. For Penguin Books, they edited the series Style and Civilization. They also edited two more series for Penguin: Architect and Society and Art in Context. Together they wrote The Visual Arts: A History, The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts, and The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture with Nikolaus Pevsner.

Honour wrote several books on his own including Horace Walpole, Chinoiserie: A Vision of Cathay, The Companion Guide to Venice, Romanticism, The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the American Revolution to World War I, and The Venetian Hours of Henry James, Whistler, and Sargent. Honour organized the traveling exhibition The European Vision of America for the United States Bicentennial in 1976. As a companion to the exhibition, he wrote The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time. He died on May 19, 2016 at the 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Originally published in 2009, this most recent edition of Honour and Fleming's classic art-history text is now being marketed to a general audience at a more affordable price. With a chronology that stretches from prehistory to the present day in nearly 1,000 pages and 1,500 color and black-and-white images images, this book aims to be comprehensive, as befitting its stated goal of being exploratory rather than critical. Photography, architecture, and digital and installation art are discussed, along with traditional media, such as painting and sculpture. Unlike many art-history books, the focus here goes beyond Western art, and topics such as colonialism and indigenous art are addressed within the chronological organization rather than in separate sections or volumes. Also notable is the attention devoted to contemporary art. The final chapter, Into the Third Millennium, focuses on art from the 1980s to the early 2010s. Contributed by contemporary art historian Michael Archer, the chapter addresses recent developments from a global perspective, including sections on Postmodern Multiculturalism and Globalization, Sensation, and Spectacle. Each chapter begins with a time line that juxtaposes historical landmarks with events in the visual arts. In Context, Urban Development, and Sources and Documents boxes provide historical, religious, and cultural context and excerpts from relevant primary source documents. The book also includes a glossary, lists of further reading for each chapter, and an index. Classic art-history surveys are regularly updated but often at a significantly higher cost. At just $75, this book represents an affordable and comprehensive addition to academic, school, and public library collections.--Harmon, Lindsay Copyright 2010 Booklist

Choice Review

In this new edition (1st ed., 1982), art historians Honour and Fleming continue and supplement their ambitious and splendid attempt at a world art history in one volume. Arranged chronologically and shifting between East and West, the text sweeps over time and space--from prehistory to the present and across Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. It also ranges over painting (and other pictorial forms, such as photography), sculpture, architecture, and the so-called "minor arts" (such as pottery and textiles). The many illustrations (about a third in color) are conveniently placed near the corresponding text. The new edition includes recent discoveries (such as the prehistoric art from Chauvet cave in France) and recent areas of research (such as women and art). Each chapter has useful time charts, maps, and diagrams (e.g., architectural plans). Especially noteworthy are the inserts "Sources and Documents" (containing important primary source material) and "In Context" (short essays on specific works and themes, e.g., the Gothic Cathedral or the Shaman's Mask). New to this edition are the inserts "Concepts" (The Ideal, The Divine, Nature, Modernism) and "Urban Development" (each two full pages on urbanization or landscape architecture, e.g., 16th-century Rome or 19th-century public parks)--all being first-rate essays. General readers; undergraduate and graduate students. D. Topper; University of Winnipeg

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 10
Introductionp. 12
Art as Craftp. 12
Systems of Buildingp. 13
Sculptural Techniques and Materialsp. 13
Painting Techniques and Materialsp. 15
Print-makingp. 18
Photographyp. 18
Pictorial Representationp. 19
Perspectivep. 19
Colorp. 21
Style and Individual Expressionp. 23
Context: Function and Meaningp. 25
The Power of Imagesp. 26
Women Artistsp. 28
The History of Artp. 30
Part 1 Foundations of Art
1 Before Historyp. 34
Timechartp. 34
The Art of Huntersp. 35
Cave Artp. 37
Mesolithic Artp. 43
The Art of Farmersp. 43
In Context Catal Huyuk: A Neolithic Townp. 44
Neolithic Architecturep. 47
Stonehengep. 48
2 The Early Civilizationsp. 50
Timechartp. 50
Mesopotamiap. 50
Sumerp. 51
Akkadian Artp. 55
Sources and Documents Gudea's Dreamp. 56
Zigguratsp. 57
Babylonp. 57
The Indus Valleyp. 58
Ancient Egyptp. 62
Predynasticp. 62
Early Dynasticp. 63
Old Kingdom Architecturep. 64
Sources and Documents Ancient Egytian Pyramid Textsp. 67
Old Kingdom Sculpture and Paintingp. 68
Middle Kingdomp. 72
The Aegeanp. 75
Minoan Cretep. 76
Mycenae and the Mainlandp. 80
In Context The Homeric Worldp. 84
Chinap. 85
Shang Dynastyp. 86
3 Developments Across the Continentsp. 90
Timechartp. 90
The Hittitesp. 90
The Discovery of Ironp. 93
The New Kingdom in Ancient Egyptp. 93
Sources and Documents Thutmose Instructs his Vizierp. 95
In Context Hatshepsut: Women in Ancient Egyptp. 96
New Kingdom Architecturep. 98
Akhenatenp. 100
Ramesside Artp. 103
Assyria and Babylonp. 106
Narrative Reliefp. 108
Babylonp. 110
Iranp. 112
Achaemenid Artp. 113
Persepolisp. 114
Zhou Chinap. 116
The Americasp. 119
The Olmecsp. 120
Perup. 122
In Context Chavin de Huantar: Religion and Society in Ancient Perup. 123
Africa: Nok Culturep. 125
4 The Greeks and their Neighboursp. 126
Timechartp. 126
Archaic Greecep. 127
The Male Nudep. 131
The Polisp. 135
The Classical Periodp. 136
The Parthenonp. 136
Sources and Documents Pausanias on the Parthenonp. 138
In Context The Delphi Charioteer: Ancient Greek Religion and Athleticsp. 144
Naturalism and Idealizationp. 148
Concepts The Ideal: Idealism, Proportion and the Canonp. 149
Vase Paintingp. 153
Stelaep. 155
The Late Classical Periodp. 156
Barbarian Alternatives: Scythians and the Animal Stylep. 159
Hallstatt and La Tenep. 162
Iberia and Sardiniap. 164
The Etruscansp. 165
Sources and Documents Pliny on Etruscan Sculpturep. 168
5 Hellenistic and Roman Artp. 173
Timechartp. 173
The Hellenistic Periodp. 175
Plato, Aristotle and the Artsp. 177
Allegoryp. 181
Hellenistic Architecturep. 183
Hellenistic and Roman Painting and Mosaicsp. 186
In Context Roman Luxury: Silver and Cameo Glassp. 187
Sources and Documents Vitruvius on Roman Paintingp. 192
Roman Architecturep. 193
Domestic Architecturep. 193
Temples and Public Worksp. 195
Urban Development From Jericho to Imperial Rome: Grid Planning and Organic Growthp. 196
The Colosseum and the Invention of Concretep. 199
The Pantheonp. 201
Roman Sculpturep. 203
Towards a Definition of Roman Artp. 204
In Context Family Piety: The Roman Portrait Bustp. 208
Late Antique Artp. 215
Part 2 Art and the World Religions
6 Buddhism, Hindusim and Far Eastern Artp. 224
Timechartp. 224
Buddhist Art in Indiap. 227
In Context The Life of Buddha: Scriptures and Imagesp. 230
The Image of Buddhap. 232
Hindu Art in Indiap. 238
Concepts The Divine: From Apollo to Vishnup. 241
In Context Ellora: An Architect Sculptor's Summitp. 245
Sources and Documents Konarak Temple Building Accountsp. 248
Buddhist and Hindu Art in Sri Lanka and Javap. 252
Buddhist and Hindu Art on the South-east Asian Mainlandp. 258
Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist Art in Chinap. 263
Han Dynastyp. 263
In Context Confucius: Han Relief Carvingp. 266
Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynastiesp. 273
Song Dynastyp. 276
Landscape Paintingp. 280
Shinto and Buddhist Art in Japanp. 285
Sources and Documents The Nihongi and the First Buddhist Images in Japanp. 286
The Heian, Fujiwara and Kamakura Periods (794-1333)p. 290
Sources and Documents Lady Murasaki on Calligraphyp. 293
7 Early Christian and Byzantine Artp. 296
Timechartp. 296
The Beginnings of Christian Artp. 297
In Context The Catacombs: Early Christian Artp. 300
From Domus Ecclesiae to the Christian Basilicap. 302
The Image of Christp. 305
Sources and Documents Agnellus on S Apollinare Nuovop. 308
Ravennap. 311
Byzantine Artp. 314
Ecclesiastical Architecturep. 314
Urban Development Constantinople: The Creation of a Capital Cityp. 316
Hagia Sophiap. 318
The Classical Traditionp. 321
Icons and Iconoclastsp. 323
The Triumph of Orthodoxyp. 324
In Context The Virgin: The First Imagesp. 326
Christian Art in Northern Europep. 328
Interlace and Illuminationp. 329
Christian Art in Western Europep. 332
The Carolingian Renovatiop. 333
Sources and Documents Einhard on the Palatine Chapelp. 335
In Context Monasticism: East and Westp. 336
Developments in Christian Imageryp. 337
8 Early Islamic Artp. 341
Timechartp. 341
Umayyad Art and Architecturep. 344
Abbasid Art and Architecturep. 349
Sources and Documents The Byzantine Ambassadors Visit Baghdadp. 350
Islamic Spainp. 353
Samanid and Seljuk Architecturep. 356
In Context The Madrasa: Architecture for Educationp. 358
Islamic Decorationp. 359
Part 3 Sacred and Secular Art
9 Medieval Christendomp. 364
Timechartp. 364
Ottonian Artp. 367
Romanesque Architecture in Italyp. 370
Romanesque Art and Architecture in Northern Europep. 374
Innovations in Romanesque Architecturep. 381
Gothic Art and Architecturep. 383
Sources and Documents Abbot Suger Finds Columns and Beams for St-Denisp. 384
In Context The Gothic Cathedral: The New Jerusalemp. 386
High Gothicp. 388
Stained Glass and Flying Buttressesp. 390
Economics and Theologyp. 393
Sources and Documents Abbot Haymo and the 'Cult of the Carts' at Chartresp. 393
Sculpture and Paintingp. 395
English and German Gothicp. 397
Sources and Documents Piers Plowman on Stained Glass and Opus Anglicanump. 398
Italian Gothicp. 400
In Context St Francis and St Clarep. 402
Giottop. 409
Sources and Documents The Monks in Padua Complain about the Scrovegni Chapelp. 411
Secular and International Gothicp. 413
10 The Fifteenth Century in Europep. 422
Timechartp. 422
The Beginnings of the Italian Renaissancep. 423
Brunelleschip. 424
Masacciop. 426
'Progress' in Sculpturep. 427
A New Style in Flandersp. 430
Van Eyck and van der Weydenp. 430
In Context The Ghent Altarpiece: Jan van Eyck and his Patronsp. 432
Sources and Documents Bartolommeo Fazio on Jan van Eyckp. 435
Architecture in Italyp. 436
Albertip. 437
Sculpture in Italyp. 439
Donatellop. 439
New Departuresp. 440
Italian Painting and the Churchp. 444
Fra Angelico, Uccello and Piero della Francescap. 444
Sources and Documents Filippino Lippi and Folippo Strozzi: Financial and other Problems over the Strozzi Chapelp. 449
Secular Paintingp. 450
Boticellip. 451
The Venetian Synthesisp. 455
Mantegna and Bellinip. 455
In Context Bellini and Carpaccio: Corporate Patronage in Renaissance Venicep. 460
International Humanismp. 461
Durerp. 461
11 The Sixteenth Century in Europep. 464
Timechartp. 464
Reform and Early Sixteenth-century Art in the Northp. 465
Hieronymus Boschp. 467
Grunewaldp. 468
Protestant Artp. 470
The High Renaissance in Italyp. 473
Leonardo da Vincip. 473
Harmony, Unity and Raphaelp. 476
In Context Bramante's Tempietto: Alberti, Leonardo and the Ideal Renaissance Churchp. 478
Michelangelop. 482
Sources and Documents Michelangelo's David: Contract and Installationp. 482
Urban Development Renaissance Urbanism: The Rome of Sixtus Vp. 492
The Venetian High Renaissancep. 495
Giorgionep. 495
Titianp. 496
Tintoretto and Veronesep. 499
Sources and Documents Veronese's Interrogation by the Inquisitionp. 501
Sansovino, Palladio and the Laws of Harmonyp. 502
Mannerism and Mannerismsp. 504
Coreggio and Mannerist 'Licence'p. 504
Pieter Bruegel the Elderp. 509
In Context Pieter Bruegel's Months: Patronage in Flandersp. 510
El Grecop. 512
12 The Americas, Africa And Asiap. 514
Timechartp. 514
Mesoamerica and Perup. 515
The Maya, Toltecs and Mixtecsp. 517
The Aztecsp. 521
Sources and Documents Cortes and Durer on Mexico and Montezuma's Treasurep. 522
Africap. 524
Sources and Documents Dapper on Beninp. 529
The Islamic Worldp. 530
Ottoman Architecturep. 533
Safavid Art and Architecturep. 535
Urban Development Isfahan and Samarkand: Islamic Urban Designp. 540
Mughal Art and Architecturep. 542
In Context Nur-Jahan and Jahangir: Art at the Mughal Courtp. 546
Sources and Documents Domingo Paes on Vijayanagarp. 550
Chinap. 551
The Yuan Dynastyp. 551
The Ming Dynastyp. 555
Sources and Documents Dong Quichang on Painting: The Study of Nature and Old Mastersp. 562
Japan - Kamakura to Edop. 562
The Influence of Zen Buddhismp. 565
In Context Namban Screens: The Japanese Encounter with Europeansp. 570
13 The Seventeenth Century in Europep. 574
Timechartp. 574
New Beginnings in Romep. 575
Concepts Nature, Imitation and Invention: The Formation of Academic Theoryp. 576
Baroque Art and Architecturep. 579
Rubens and van Dyckp. 580
In Context The Jesuit Missions: Evangelization and Colonizationp. 582
The Easel Painting in Italyp. 585
Berninip. 587
Borrominip. 591
Poussin and Claudep. 592
Velasquezp. 595
Sources and Documents Pacheco Art in the Service of Religionp. 597
Dutch Paintingp. 598
Halsp. 598
Rembrandtp. 600
In Context Rembrandt's 'Hundred-guilder Print': The Development of Graphic Processesp. 602
Landscapep. 605
Still Life and Genrep. 608
Vermeerp. 609
England and Francep. 610
14 Enlightenment and Libertyp. 614
Timechartp. 614
French Rococo Artp. 615
Watteau, de Troy and the Rococo Interiorp. 617
Boucher, Chardin and Fragonardp. 619
Sources and Documents Diderot on Boucher, Greuze and Chardinp. 620
In Context Fragonard and Greuze: Sex Objects and Virtuous Mothersp. 622
The Rococo in Germany and Italyp. 624
Tiepolo, Guardi and Canalettop. 626
English Sense and Sensibilityp. 629
Hogarth and Gainsboroughp. 629
Landscape and Classicismp. 630
Neo-Classicism, or the 'True Style'p. 635
Sources and Documents Washington and Jefferson: Antique versus Modern Dressp. 636
Canova and Davidp. 637
Part 4 The Making of The Modern World
15 Romanticism to realismp. 642
Timechartp. 642
Urban Development Factories and Public Parks: Owen, Nash and Olmstedp. 644
Romanticismp. 646
The Heirs of Davidp. 648
Goyap. 650
Gericaultp. 652
Ingresp. 653
Delacroixp. 654
Sources and Documents Heine on Delacroix's Liberty Leading the Peoplep. 657
Romanticism and Philosophyp. 657
Friedrichp. 657
Blakep. 658
Romantic Landscape Paintingp. 659
Constablep. 659
Turnerp. 661
In Context Turner's Slave Ship: Images of Slaveryp. 662
Corot and the Etudep. 664
Photographyp. 665
In which Style should We Build?p. 668
Sources and Documents Pugin on the Principles of Christian Architecturep. 670
Historicism and Realismp. 671
The Pre-Raphaelitesp. 672
Courbetp. 673
Concepts Art for Art's Sake: Aestheticism versus Realismp. 674
Milletp. 675
Sources and Documents Baudelaire: 'What is the good of criticism?'p. 676
Manetp. 677
The USAp. 680
In Context Caleb Bingham's Fur Traders: Art and the Frontierp. 684
Photography comes of Agep. 688
16 Eastern Traditionsp. 692
Timechartp. 692
Oing-dynasty Chinap. 693
In Context Wanh Huing and Others, Portrait of An Oi: Painters and Patrons under the Qing Dynastyp. 695
Architecture and the Decorative Artsp. 696
Japan in the Edo Periodp. 698
Hokusai and Hiroshigep. 701
Sources and Documents Hokusai and Frank Lloyd Wright on the Japanese Printp. 704
17 Impressionism to Post-Impressionismp. 706
Timechartp. 706
Impressionismp. 707
Monetp. 710
Sources and Documents Laforgue on Impressionismp. 711
Morisot, Renoir and Manetp. 711
In Context Degas and Manet: City Lights and the Exploitation of Womenp. 714
Degasp. 716
Japonismep. 718
Neo-Impressionismp. 721
Seurat, Divisionism and Socialismp. 722
Symbolismp. 723
Gaugin and Van Goghp. 724
Allegories of Modern Life: Munch and Rodinp. 727
Art Nouveau and the New Architecturep. 729
Sullivan and the Skyscraperp. 731
In Context The Crystal Palace and the Statue of Liberty: Metal and New Building Methodsp. 732
Domestic Architecturep. 734
Cezannep. 735
Sources and Documents Cezanne to Emile Bernardp. 736
18 Indigenous Arts of Africa, The Americas, Australia and Oceaniap. 740
Timechartp. 740
Oceaniap. 741
Polynesiap. 742
Sources and Documents Captain Cook and the Arts of the Pacificp. 745
Melanesia and Micronesiap. 748
Australiap. 750
The American North-Westp. 752
In Context A Shaman's Mask: Art and Magicp. 754
The Plains and the Arid Lands of North Americap. 756
Africap. 758
In Context Palace Doors from Ikere: African Images of Europeansp. 762
Part 5 Twentieth-century Art
19 Art from 1900 to 1919p. 772
Timechartp. 772
New Ways of Lookingp. 773
In Context Picasso's Demoiselles: Anarchism, Colonialism and Art as Exorcismp. 776
The Fauves and Expressionismp. 778
Matissep. 779
The German Expressionistsp. 780
Kandinskyp. 783
Sources and Documents Kandinsky on Colorp. 784
Marcp. 785
Cubismp. 786
Picasso and Braque: Analytical and Synthetic Cubismp. 786
Sources and Documents Braque and Picasso on Cubismp. 789
Orphic Cubismp. 793
Futurismp. 794
Abstract or Non-objective Artp. 797
Suprematism and the Founding of De Stijlp. 797
Architecturep. 799
Frank Lloyd Wrightp. 799
20 Between the Two World Warsp. 801
Timechartp. 801
Dada and Surrealismp. 801
Duchampp. 803
America and the Precisionist Viewp. 806
Diego Rivera and the Mexican Muralistsp. 808
Breton, de Chirico and Ernstp. 809
In Context Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros: Art and Politicsp. 810
Sources and Documents Louis Aragon, Max Ernst and Others Issue a Surrealist Declarationp. 812
Dali, Magritte and Mirop. 813
Welded Metal: A Revolution in Sculpturep. 816
Photography and Modern Movementsp. 818
Constructivism, De Stijl and the International Stylep. 821
Art and Revolutionp. 821
The Bauhausp. 823
Sources and Documents Walter Gropius on the Bauhausp. 823
Mondrianp. 825
Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohep. 827
Urban Development Cities of the Future: Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wrightp. 828
Brancusi and Moorep. 831
Art Decop. 832
21 Post-War to Post-Modernp. 834
Timechartp. 834
Abstract Expressionismp. 835
Pollock and de Kooningp. 837
Still, Rothko and Neumanp. 839
European Survivorsp. 842
Post-Painterly Abstractionp. 843
Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenbergp. 844
Concepts Modernism and Formalismp. 845
Pop Artp. 846
Photographic Imageryp. 849
Minimal and Conceptual Artp. 850
Earth and Land Artp. 852
Photo-Realism and New Image Paintingp. 854
Body Art and Process Artp. 856
Modernism and Post-Modernismp. 857
22 Towards the Third Millenniump. 862
Timechartp. 862
Questioning Modernismp. 864
Neo-Expressionismp. 869
Art as Identityp. 874
Post-Modern Multiculturalismp. 880
Video Artp. 887
Glossaryp. 888
For Further Readingp. 901
Acknowledgementsp. 910
Indexp. 912
Prehistoric Europe and the Near East
The Ancient Near and Middle East
Ancient Egypt
The ancient Aegean
Ancient China
Ancient Asia Minor
Ancient Mesoamerica
Ancient Peru
Ancient Greece
Etruscan and Roman Italy
South-East Asia
The Byzantine World
The Islamic World
Western Europe and the Middle Ages
Renaissance Italy
Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica