JF Ptak Science Books
There's a fine experience in reading and looking at a history of art that is an artwork in itself--especially an antiquarian artwork. That is in a way what this work (Gallerie du Musee de France publiee par Filhol, Graveur, le Texte Redige par Lavallee..) edited by Antoine Michel Filhol, and Armand Carafee, and Joseph Lavallee is--it is exciting and exhausting, in good and perhaps not-so-good ways. Being a general history of art the book looks at Ancient and Western art over the 1700 years or so, but mostly from the Renaissance forward. It is exhaustive in its way and exhausting, in an Old School museum sort of way, where there is a lot of stuff to look at, all jammed in together, sometimes without a unifying force. That means for each section there is artwork from, well, anywhere; although frustrating it is also exciting, because you never really know what's coming next. This is especially true due to the fact that every engraving is protected by a tissue guard, which makes it mostly not possible to see the artwork until you open the guard page, which is when you may be surprised by the Rembrandt or Holbein.