The Birth of Western Painting
Robert Byron's illustrated study of Byzantine art
First edition, limited to 650 copies (this one no 364). Quarter white buckram with red/brown cloth covered boards. Gilt titling to spine and gilt motif to upper board. Pages' top edge dyed red, fore-edge untrimmed. 29 × 22cm, xviii + 236pp + 94 plates.
Full title: The Birth of Western Painting. A History of Colour, Form, and Iconography illustrated from the Paintings of Mistra and Mount Athos, of Giotto and Duccio, and of El Greco.
The text was by Robert Byron, the images by David Talbot Rice. This book deals with Byzantine art, not as an isolated province, but as one intimately connected with the subsequent history of European painting. After a summary of the whole question in its relation to modern art, the second chapter opens with a novel analysis of the iconoclast controversy, and shows how it was only by this movement that Hellenistic naturalism was finally vanquished and the seed of interpretational art planted in Europe in its stead. The third chapter reveals how this seed was nourished by the Constantinopolitan Renascence, and how that event, combined with the increasing humanisation of religious emotion, culminated, not only in Duccio and Giotto, but in the equally important work of their contemporaries at Mistra and Mount Athos. A detailed account of these works is given and in the last part of the book, the mystery of El Greco is finally resolved.
A good plus copy of this Robert Byron title. The binding is in very good order, and the white cloth spine is very clean. There is a little bumping to the spine ends and corners, and there is some age-related toning to the untrimmed page edges. The text pages have scattered foxing throughout, as do the endpapers, but the plate pages are clean. The inner binding is secure.