The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists, Second Edition is an authoritative and up-to-date guide to Western art from Ancient Greece to the present day. It offers over two thousand entries on painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts, covering not only artists and their work, but also patrons and dealers, collectors and writers, materials and techniques, and museums and galleries. For this new edition much new material has been added on twentieth-century art, including subjects such as Neo-Expressionism and the Turner Prize. Written in clear, lively prose, this invaluable reference maintains a careful balance between fact and appraisal. In its pages, we encounter artists ranging from Polyclitus of Argos to Leonardo da Vinci, from Grandma Moses to Mary Cassatt, from Max Beckmann to Andy Warhol. Here also are periods and movements, including the Classical period, the Renaissance, the Ancients, Impressionism, the Ash-can School, and Cubism, as well as techniques and styles such as encaustic painting, encarnado, lithography, cabinet painting, and blot drawing. For this abridgement, Ian Chilvers has retained all of the essential features of the original while adding new entries and eliminating the more peripheral articles. By presenting the information in a pithier format, he is able to focus more sharply on Western and Western-inspired art. The dictionary also provides a very helpful cross-referencing system for names, art media, styles, and terms. Art enthusiasts of every kind will find this entirely reliable and highly readable volume indispensable.


The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists is a revised, updated, and abridged version of The Oxford Dictionary of Art, which was published in 1988. It is about a fifth shorter than the parent work, but the majority of the entries are unchanged or amended only slightly; the reduction in length has been achieved not by trying to condense each entry by an average amount, but by recasting the longer, discursive articles (such as those on printmaking techniques) in much pithier form and by dropping certain marginal classes of entry. These include, for example, all entries on bookprinting, unless there is a very close connection with a major artist or artists; so the Kelmscott Press still finds a place, but the Aldine Press does not. In this way, The Concise Oxford Dictionaty of Art and Artists is more sharply focused than its parent as a reference book to Western and Westerninspired painting, sculpture, and graphic art. Architecture is excluded, although there are entries on individuals who were active chiefly as architects but who made significant contributions to other fields of the visual arts (Bramante and Brunelleschi, for example). Oriental art, too, is omitted, although there is an entry on Ukiyo-e, as the subject of Japanese prints occurs so frequently in the discussion of late nineteenth-century French painting.

The time span of the book is from the 5th century BC (the Classical age of Greek art) to the present day; an arbitrary cut-off point has been adopted for contemporary art, in that no artist born after 1945 is included. As well as biographies of artists, the book has entries on techniques, groups, styles, movements, writers, patrons, dealers, collectors, museums, and galleries. Also included are the celebrated antique statues (such as the Apollo Belvedere, the Belvedere Torso, and the Laocoön) that were so influential on European art from the Renaissance onwards, and one or two (such as the Venus de Milo) whose fame is more recent.

The length of individual entries is roughly correlated to the importance of the subject, but with many qualifications, some artists' lives being much more easily summarized than others. Those who travelled a great deal, or had fingers in many pies, or who for one reason or another led especially interesting lives are likely to have longer entries than equally accomplished artists who stayed at home and devoted themselves to one speciality. It is of course tempting to write more about one's own favourites, but I hope this kind of personal bias (for or against) has intruded only rarely.

There is no system of alphabetizing artists' names that will satisfy logic but not offend against usage. Thus, one says 'van Dyck' or 'van Gogh', rather than 'Dyck' or 'Gogh', but they are almost invariably indexed under D and G (as they are here) rather than V. Cross-references are given when there is likely to be doubt about where an artist will be found, but the following general rules may be taken as guidelines. Prefixes such as 'de' . . .

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