15th Century Paintings

Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen

Read February 2003

One volume in a series with an excellent premise: take a small number of works of art and analyze them in great detail. The Hagens choose several interesting works from an era I little understand, and provide a great deal of insight into their selections. The discussion is largely about content, somewhat about style, and rarely about materials. I was surprised by the volume of suble symbolism in this period's art (presumably that's true of all periods — the crux is whether you're trained to identify and decipher it), and quite easily understood why, without a guide like this, I had seldom appreciated the art of the period. The writing is a bit odd (I'm reading it in English translation), with abrupt transitions and somewhat poor editing. But lacking a better literary work, this extremely handy work would be a very helpful travel companion.

(See also their sequel on the next century.)