The Oxford Companion to Western Art

By Roberts, Lisa; Brigstocke, Hugh, ed. | Reference & User Services Quarterly, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

The Oxford Companion to Western Art


Roberts, Lisa, Brigstocke, Hugh, ed., Reference & User Services Quarterly


Ed. by Hugh Brigstocke. New York: Oxford Univ. Pr., 2001. 768p. acid free $75 (ISBN 0-19-866203-3). www.oup.com.

Editor Hugh Brigstocke brings his experience as former curator at the National Gallery of Scotland, editor-in-chief of the Grove Dictionary of Art, and head of the Old Master Paintings Department at Sotheby's to bear on this new reference work, intended to be a replacement of Harold Osborne's Oxford Companion to An (Clarendon Press, 1970).

Oxford Companion to Western An contains 2,600 A-to-Z entries written and signed by one hundred contributors. Although not intended to be comprehensive, the reader can expect to find entries on artists, styles, movements, techniques, materials, criticism, museums, and galleries in major cities, and art history, excluding architecture and non-Western art. Most entries have at least one reference for further reading. Cross-references are indicated within the main text of articles by asterisk. The text is preceded by a list of color plates and concludes with an index of authors and writers on art. Most of the 1,700 articles on artists average between one-sixth to one-third page in length. Articles on Van Gogh, Goya, and Cezanne average one page each, and major artists Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso each receive two pages of commentary. Expanded coverage of artists includes new entries for Frida Kahlo and Eadweard Muybridge, and rewritten articles on Leonardo da Vinci, Magritte, Munch, and Kandinsky, to name just a few. The forty-nine special feature articles address a wide range of topics, including "Baroque," "Grand Tour," "Portraiture," "Scientific Examination," and "Wall Painting."

The strength of this work is its extensive coverage of patronage and collecting of art in major European countries and cities not found in Osborne's work. For example, the article on Italian art covers patronage and collecting of Italian art in Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain, Germany and Central Europe, and the United States.

The emphasis of this Companion is arguably on classical and European art. Coverage of Italian and Spanish Baroque art as well as Medieval illuminated manuscripts has been expanded from Osborne's. There are no articles on Latin American, Native American, or African American art and no article on patronage and collecting in America, only for select U. …

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