Preparing a one-volume encyclopedia on any subject accentuates the usual problem of how far to go and where to stop, how to maintain a balance between the essential facts and effectiveness of presentation. Within the number of words and illustrations prescribed by the aim of producing a portable and not too costly volume we have tried to give an all-over picture of the outstanding painters, movements, styles and techniques from the most ancient times to the present day. The editor and contributing associates to this volume have attempted also to establish a just proportion between the past and the present, the purely factual and the essentially critical, the Orient and the Occident, the specifically biographical entry and the general descriptive entry or definition.
Features of special interest to both the general public and the student of art include an extensive section on the Orient (China, Japan, India and Persia), a thoroughgoing but selective section on the art of the United States, and an equally inclusive coverage of the many European and other countries contributing to the art of our own times.
We may note finally that in contrast to other available encyclopedias in English, the present volume is richly illustrated. The approximately one thousand color plates and black-and-white pictures relate in every case to the biographical or descriptive entries which they illustrate, although they are not necessarily keyed to specific descriptions in the text. All illustrations are in or near the entry which they illustrate. In addition, the color plates have been numbered and are referred to by number in the text.
The various personalities, movements, techniques and definitions are listed in the usual alphabetical fashion, with the partial exception of the Oriental material, which is specially treated because of its relative unfamiliarity to the Western reader. Here the names of the best-known and outstanding Oriental painters may be found as listings in their alphabetical places within the body of the book; these listings refer the reader to the appropriate era or dynasty within the special sections on Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Persian painters. For lesser-known Oriental names the reader may turn directly to the national entry and scan the listings under each dynasty thereof for the appropriate entry. This arrangement helps the reader find a desired name and at the same time, by grouping the entries of each Oriental culture, provides a historical survey of the painting of each country.
In alphabetizing the names of Italian painters, we have followed the prevailing practice of books on Italian art of alphabetizing such names--with a few unavoidable exceptions--