Early Netherlandish Painting: From Van Eyck to Bruegel

By Max J. Friedlænder | Go to book overview
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WRITTEN some forty years ago, Friedl"nder Von Eyck bis Bruegel is one of the few art-historical books of its period which have lost nothing of their impact since they were first published. We value it as the mature work of the unrivalled connoisseur and historian of early Netherlandish painting who, in his fiftieth year, here presented a series of artists' portraits, the fruits, without the labour, of his continuous detailed studies and intuitive insight. What is summed up here in concise, often epigrammatic form in a single tome was later expanded by the author in the fourteen volumes of his magnum opus, Die Altniederl"ndische Malerei, published 1924- 1937. In this later publication he was able to devote more space to the discussion also of minor artists and to the elaboration of detail which he had avoided in Von Eyck bis Bruegel, and, of course, his continuous searching study of the subject, as well as the appearance of hitherto unknown material--paintings and documents--necessarily led to some new results. It is a measure of the earlier work's high quality that in spite of subsequent writings and Friedl"nder's still continuing work it has in no way become obsolete. The reasons are obvious: in 1916, when he was writing it, his notion of early Netherlandish art was fully developed and formed, and he was complete master of a unique style of expressive characterization which in its elegance and precision and absence of art-historical jargon has few equals in German academic writing.

The first German edition appeared in 1916, a second enlarged one in 1921. It is on the latter that this first English edition, published in the author's ninetieth year, is based.

In the republication of a book of this order any interference with the text is out of the question and the editor's task is a very limited one. In annotating the volume I have tried to enhance its usefulness for the present-day reader mainly in three ways: by indicating changes in the ownership of works discussed, by drawing attention to later relevant discoveries, in particular those of Friedl"nder himself, and by pointing out, wherever necessary, his most recent views. In order to leave the text completely unchanged, all this matter appears in footnotes which are marked with an asterisk to distinguish them from the author's own. The


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