This book IS, in a sense, a private art gallery, with talking guide. It seeks both to delight and to instruct. It assembles in one place 109 representative objects from every period and all branches of ancient Greek art, for the reader's enjoyment and analysis. The objects can speak for themselves, from their exact images in the color plates. To help toward a fuller appreciation of their merits, and toward seeing them in their cultural context, the commentaries discuss the objects' artistic qualities and supply useful background information. Each commentary is a unit, to be read on its own and not necessarily in the book's sequence--for this is a book to browse in as well as to study. I have sought to avoid merely subjective interpretations, preferring to approach the objects as they are in themselves and to seek out their intrinsic meaning--to evaluate and enjoy what is in them by their makers' intention and skill. The hope is to bring the reader into direct personal experience of the vitality and beauty of Greek art, and to an understanding of its history.
As an aid to seeing the objects in their relationships to one another and to the civilization in which they were produced, the introductory essay surveys the development of the arts in Greece, with attention to the intellectual and social milieu at each period which largely accounts for the variation in mood and emphasis discernible in different epochs of the long story. These inter-relations are presented schematically on the chronological chart which is provided.
In selecting the material for inclusion in this book, I have been guided both by the objects' intrinsic merit as art and by their suitability to show the special features of Greek art at different periods and in its many branches. Many other pieces equally deserve attention; perhaps they may receive their due in a later volume.
The color plates have all been made from my original 35 mm slides, taken directly from the objects in their present location, sometimes under very difficult conditions. Every effort has been made to reproduce color tones as close to those of the original objects as possible, by use of six color-separation plates and carefully controlled inking. Total success in this is not yet technically possible, but we have done our best to show the various items as they really look, for their properly objective appreciation.
I am grateful to the publishers for undertaking the very large financial outlay necessary to the book's production, and for the fine cooperation of their editor, Mr. Burton Cumming, in all details of its preparation. Several friends have read the manuscript and made help-