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Civilisation : a personal view por Kenneth…
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Civilisation : a personal view (original 1969; edição 1969)

por Kenneth Clark (Autor)

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Kenneth Clark's sweeping narrative looks at how Western Europe evolved in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire, to produce the ideas, books, buildings, works of art and great individuals that make up our civilisation. The author takes us from Iona in the ninth century to France in the twelfth, from Florence to Urbino, from Germany to Rome, England, Holland and America. Against these historical backgrounds he sketches an extraordinary cast of characters -- the men and women who gave new energy to civilisation and expanded our understanding of the world and of ourselves. He also highlights the works of genius they produced -- in architecture, sculpture and painting, in philosophy, poetry and music, and in science and engineering, from Raphael's School of Athens to the bridges of Brunel.… (mais)
Título:Civilisation : a personal view
Autores:Kenneth Clark (Autor)
Informação:Harper & Row (1969), 359 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca

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Civilisation: A Personal View por Kenneth Clark (1969)

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Kenneth Clark

Civilisation: A Personal View

The Folio Society, Hardback, 1999.

Folio. 276 pp. Slipcase. 280 illustrations. Preface by Alan Clark [7]. Foreword by the author [9-11]. Index [269-76].

First published, 1969.
This edition, 1999.



1. The Skin of our Teeth
2. The Great Thaw
3. Romance and Reality
4. Man – the Measure of all Things
5. The Hero as Artist
6. Protest and Communication
7. Grandeur and Obedience
8. The Light of Experience
9. The Pursuit of Happiness
10. The Smile of Reason
11. The Worship of Nature
12. The Fallacies of Hope
13. Heroic Materialism

List of illustrations


This is not a review of the book but a brief comparison between editions, the original one from 1969 and the Folio Society version published thirty years later. The text is very much the same. The only addition in the Folio Society edition is a short preface by Alan Clark, the author’s son, a piece of fawning fluff that no amount of sympathy with filial affection can make worth reading. The Index is the same. The original edition, strangely enough, has no bibliography. The Folio Society editors didn’t think one necessary, either. The illustrations are, of course, where the editions differ most considerably.

The original edition contains 286 illustrations, 238 in black-and-white and 48 in colour. The Folio Society edition contains 280 illustrations, most of them (but unspecified number) in full colour. The layout is quite new and, on the whole, an improvement on the original. Most paintings formerly reproduced in black-and-white are now in colour and look spectacular. On the other hand, there are several exceptions – Houdon’s extraordinary statue of Voltaire and the poignant Gero Crucifix in the Cologne Cathedral, for instance – which do look better in the original edition; their replacements may be in colour, but the photos are smaller and less effective. Charlemagne, too, looks far more impressive on the dust jacket, or even the quarto page, of the original edition than in the rather modest version reprinted by the Folio Society.

More questionable are some pictorial changes. Pannini’s interior of St Peter’s is quite a magnificent thing to behold spread on two folio pages, far superior to a single quarto page for sure, and so are the details from Ghiberti’s Baptistery doors on the endpapers, which are new to boot. The inclusion of Verrocchio’s David and Rodin’s Gates of Hell are welcome, too, and more than relevant to the text. Rodin’s Eve is well lost, but Van Gogh’s self-portrait with a palette, in full colour and on full page, is not. If this exclusion may be excused because the portrait, or indeed Van Gogh himself, is barely mentioned on the pages, Millet’s drawing of a peasant is an important supplement to the text that should not have been omitted. Perhaps most regrettable – in addition to that most exquisite but, alas, missing Watteau drawing of heads – is the exchange of the ivory artwork on the Book of Pericopes for the more lavish, but cruder and far less ingenious, cover of the Echternach Gospels (even that, however, makes the work of Folio Society look drab; quite expensive books they had in the 9-10th century).

The illustrated hard covers are unique, of course, to the Folio Society edition, and the combination of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man and a Corinthian column is an excellent appetizer. One caveat, however: the cover art is somewhat less permanent than it should be. Don’t be surprised if, after reading this book for some time, you find your clothes covered with silver dust.

On the whole, the Folio Society edition is certainly the one to have. No need to get both editions, as in the case of The Nude (1956, 2010), no matter how fascinated you are by the book. That said, I have no intention of giving away my copy of the original edition.

By way of conclusion, here is the List of Illustrations copied from pp. 263-8. New illustrations are marked in bold (note that the Pannini title page is included but the Ghiberti endpapers are omitted). Illustrations present in the original edition but omitted from this one are inserted in square brackets. An asterisk denotes a colour illustration in the original edition. Minor differences in the photos are not noted, but a few cases where the same theme is illustrated by a different example are given in round brackets.

1. The Interior of St Peter’s. Oil painting by Giovanni Pannini, c. 1730.*
2. Prow of a Viking ship. Wood, 9th century.
3. African dancing mask of the Sang tribe from Ulivira, Lake Tanganyika. Wood, undated.
4. Apollo of the Belvedere. Marble statue, late 4th century BC.
5. Aqueduct, Pont du Gard, Nîmes. Roman, late 1st century BC.
6. Monastery, Skellig Michael, Dingle peninsula, Western Ireland, 7th century.
7. Neptune Dish, from Mildenhall treasure trove. Silver, 4th century.
8. Purse lid, from Sutton Hoo burial. Gold and enamel, 7th century.*
9. Iona, Western Isles, Scotland.
10. Initial L, Gospel of St Matthew. Illumination from the Lindisfarne Gospels, c. 700.*
11. Imago Hominis. Illumination from the Echternach Gospels, c. 700.
12. Gospel of St John. Illumination from the Book of Kells, 8th century.
(Different page from the same source.)
13. Franks Casket. Whalebone, c. 700.
14. Gokstad Viking ship, mid 9th century.
15. Oseberg Viking ship, early 9th century.
16. St George and Scribes. Ivory book cover, Franco-German School, c. 850–75.
17. Carolingian Cavalry. Illumination from the St Gall Psalter, 9th century.
18. Reliquary bust of Charlemagne. Gold and silver work with precious stones, 1349.*
19. Carolingian manuscript. Illumination from the Julius Calendar and Hymnal, mid 11th century.
20. San Vitale, Ravenna, mid 6th century.
21. Charlemagne’s Chapel, Aix-la-Chapelle, c. 790s.
22. Front board of the Echternach Gospels. Jewel encrusted, with cloisonné and ivory inlays, on gold, 10th century.
(Binding of Book of Pericopes incorporating a ninth-century ivory made for Emperor Henry II.*)
23. The Crucifixion. Illumination from the Ramsay Psalter, c. 980.
24. The Cross of Lothar (front). Gold with jewel inlay, c. 1000.
25. The Cross of Lothar (back). Engraved silver, c. 1000.
26. The Gero Crucifix. Gilded wood, c. 970, Cologne Cathedral.
27. An Archbishop among his Choir. Ivory carving, c. 875.
28. Panel from the door of St Bernard (detail), Church of St Michael, Hildesheim. Bronze, 1015.
29. Durham Cathedral.
30. The Abbey of Cluny. Lithograph after Emile Sagot, 1844.
31. The Gloucester Candlestick. Gold with jewel inlay, early 12th century.
32. Tympanum, Abbey Church of St Pierre, Moissac. Stone, c. 1115.
33. Mullion, church of Souillac, France. Stone, 12th century.
34. King of France going on a Crusade. Illumination from Chronique de France ou de St-Denis, 14th century.
35. Reliquary statue of St Foy, Conques. Gold and enamel with jewel inlay, c. 980.*
36. Initial to the Book of Jeremiah. Illumination from the Winchester Bible, mid 12th century.
37. Main inner portal, Abbey Church of La Madeleine, Vézelay, 1120–32.
38. Nave (facing east), Abbey Church of La Madeleine, Vézelay, 1120–32.
39. Three Kings. Stone carving by Gislebertus, Autun Cathedral, c. 1125–35.
40. Judas. Stone carving by Gislebertus, Autun Cathedral, c. 1125–35.
41. The Mass of St Gilles. Oil and tempera painting on panel by the Master of St Gilles, Netherlandish School, c. 1500.
42. Liturgical vessel in the shape of an eagle. Porphyry and gold, c. 1140.*
43. Chartres Cathedral: the west front, c. 1150.
44. Chartres Cathedral: main portal, c. 1150.
45. God the geometer. Illumination from Codex Vindobonensis, early 13th century.
46. Head of King of Judea, main portal, Chartres Cathedral, c. 1150.
47. Head of King of Judea, main portal, Chartres Cathedral, c. 1150.
(Different figures, a king and a queen, from the same source.)
48. Chartres Cathedral: the nave, 1194–1250.
49. The Death of the Virgin. Detail of a stained-glass window, Chartres Cathedral, 13th century.*
50. ‘A mon seul désir’: scene from The Lady with the Unicorn series. Tapestry, c. 1500.*
51. St Modeste, North Portal, Chartres Cathedral, c. 1220.
52. Tournai Font, Winchester Cathedral. Black limestone (‘Tournai marble’), c. 1129–71.
53. Siege of the Castle of Love. Ivory mirror case, c. 1360.
54. The Two Marys at the Sepulchre. Ivory statuette, mid 14th century.
55. Virgin and Child. Ivory statuette, c. 1275–79.*
56. Illuminated page from King Rene, Le Coeur de l’Amour Epris, c. 1457.*
57. The Reliquary of the Thorn. Gold and enamel, with jewel inlay, French, 1405–10.
58. The Fool. Illumination by Jacquemart de Hesdin from the Psalter of Jean, Duke of Berry, 1380–85.*
59. Virgin and Child. Illumination by Jacquemart de Hesdin from Tres belles heures du duc de Berry, c. 1384–1409.
(Different “Virgin and Child” illustration from another manuscript.)
60. The Wilton Diptych. Tempera painting on panel by an unknown artist, French school, c. 1395.
61. Leaf capitals, Southwell Minster. Stone, 13th century.
62. Sketches page from the Pepysian Model Book, c. 1370–80.
63. August: hawking. Illumination by Pol de Limbourg from Les très riches heures du duc de Berry, early 15th century.*
64. January: the duke at dinner. Illumination by Pol de Limbourg from Les très riches heures du duc de Berry, early 15th century.
65. The Wish of the Young St Francis to become a Soldier (St Francis and the Poor Gentleman). Tempera painting on panel by Stefano di Giovanni Sassetta, c. 1430–32.
66. The Mystic Marriage of St Francis to Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. Oil painting on panel by Stefano di Giovanni Sassetta, c. 1377–44.
67. View of the convent, Assisi.
68. Scrovigni dedicating his Chapel. Fresco by Giotto, c. 1304–13.
69. The Kiss of Judas. Fresco by Giotto, 1313.
70. The Lamentation. Fresco by Giotto, 1303–05.*
71. Dante and the Heavenly City. Oil painting on panel by Domenico di Michelino, 1465.
72. Detail from pulpit. Stone carving by Giovanni Pisano, 1301.
73. Pazzi Chapel, Sta Croce, Florence. Designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, c. 1430.
74. Tomb of Leonardo Bruni, Sta Croce, Florence. Marble tomb sculpture by Bernardo Rossellino, 1444–50.
75. St Augustine. Fresco by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1480, Florence.
76. The Library, Convent of San Marco, built c. 1437–52.
77. St George. Marble statue by Donatello, 1416–20.
78. The Tribute Money. Fresco by Tommaso Masaccio, Florence, c. 1425–28.
79. St Peter healing the Sick with his Shadow. Fresco by Tommaso Masaccio, Florence, c. 1425–28.*
80. View of an Ideal City, or, the City of God. Oil painting on panel by Piero della Francesca, 15th century.
81. Jacob and Esau. Gilded bronze panel from the ‘Gates of Paradise’, Baptistry doors, Florence, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, c. 1425.
82. The Planet Mercury. Engraving by an unidentified artist, c. 1465.
83. The Annunciation. Gilded sandstone relief by Donatello, c. 1406.
84. David. Bronze statuette by Donatello, c. 1433.
85. Self-portrait. Bronze plaque by Leon Baptista Alberti, c. 1435.
86. The Marriage of Giovanni(?) Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami. Oil painting on panel by Jan van Eyck, 1434.
87. Giovanni Chellini. Marble portrait bust by Antonio Rossellino, 1456.
[Frontispiece to Lorenzo de’ Medici’s book of poems.]
88. The Three Graces. A detail from La Primavera (Spring). Oil painting by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1475.*
89. The Ducal Pallace, Urbino.
90. The courtyard, the Ducal Palace, Urbino.
91. Federigo da Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo. Oil painting by Justus of Ghent, c. 1473–75.
92. Interior of the Ducal Palace, Urbino.
93. Lodovico II Gonzaga and his Family. Fresco by Andrea Mantegna, 1474.
94. The Gonzaga Family welcome the Return of their Son. Fresco by Andrea Mantegna, 1474.*
95. The Adoration of the Lamb altarpiece (detail). Oil painting on panel by Jan van Eyck, 1425–32.*
96. Fete Champetre. Oil painting by Giorgione and/or Titian, early 16th century (before 1520).
97. The Tempest. Oil painting by Giorgione and possibly Titian, c. 1505.
98. Old Woman (Col Tempo). Oil painting by Giorgione, c. 1500.
99. Pine-cone in il nicchione, Vatican Palace. Bronze, 3rd century.
100. Baths of Caracalla, Rome, early 3rd century.
101. Platina is appointed Librarian of the Vatican by Pope Sixtus IV. Fresco by Melozzo da Forlì, 1477.
102. The Triumph of Caesar – the Vase Bearers. Oil painting by Andrea Mantegna, c. 1486–94.
103. David. Marble statue by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1502–9.
104. David. Bronze statuette by Andrea del Verrocchio, c. 1475.
105. Study for the Battle of Cascina. Chalk drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1504–5.
106. Captive. Marble statue by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1513.
107. Captive. Marble statue by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1532.
108. The Division of Light from Darkness. Fresco by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1510–12, Sistine Chapel.
109. The Creation of Man. Fresco by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1511–12, Sistine Chapel.*
110. The School of Athens. Fresco by Raphael, 1509–11, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican.*
111. The School of Athens. Fresco (detail) by Raphael, 1509–11, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican.
112. Mount Parnassus. Fresco by Raphael, 1509–11, Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican.
113. Galatea. Fresco by Raphael, 1512.
114. The Miraculous Draught of the Fishes. Tapestry cartoon by Raphael, 1515–16.*
115. The Infant in the Womb. Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1510–12.
116. The Deluge. Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1517–18.
117. Adam. Marble statue by Tilman Rimensncheider, after 1483.
118. Oswald Krell (Oswolt Krel). Oil painting by Albrecht Dürer, 1499.*
119. Portrait of a Cardinal. Oil painting by Raphael, c. 1510.
120. Erasmus. Oil painting by Hans Holbein, early 16th century.
121. Sir Thomas More and his Family. Pen and ink drawing by Hans Holbein, 1527.
122. Madonna of the Burgermeister Meyer. Oil painting by Hans Holbein, 1528.*
123. Lamentation, detail from the Crucifixion, from the Isenheim Altarpiece. Oil painting by Mathis Grünewald, c. 1515.
124. Erasmus. Marginal drawing by Hans Holbein from Erasmus, In Praise of Folly, c. 1531–4.
[Another Holbein drawing of Erasmus from the same source.]
125. Walrus. Watercolour by Albrecht Dürer, 1521.
126. Self-portrait. Oil painting by Albrecht Dürer, 1498.
127. Great Piece of Turf (A Study of Weeds). Watercolour by Albrecht Dürer, 1503.
128. Star of Bethlehem. Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1505–7.
129. Melancholia I. Engraving by Albrecht Dürer, 1514.
130. Life of the Virgin. Woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, 1510.
131. St Jerome in his Study. Engraving by Albrecht Dürer, 1514.
132. The Knight, Death and the Devil. Engraving by Albrecht Dürer, 1513.
133. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Woodcut by Albrecht Dürer, 1498.
134. Martin Luther. Etching by Lucas Cranach, 1521.
135. Martin Luther’s Father. Gouache painting by Lucas Cranach, 1527.
136. Swiss Mercenary. Drawing by Urs Graf, 1521.
137. The Old Hall, Kirby, Northhamptonshire. Photograph.
138. Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire. Photograph.
139. Nave of Sta Maria Maggiore, Rome. Photograph.
140. The Last Judgement. Fresco by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1536–41, Sistine Chapel, Vatican.
141. Pope Paul III. Oil painting by Titian, 1543.*
142. The Conversion of St Paul. Fresco by Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1542–5, Pauline Chapel, Vatican.
143. Plan of the fortifications of Florence. Drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1529.
144. St Peter’s, Rome.
[Another photo of St Peter’s.]
145. Design for the dome of St Peter’s. Engraving by Michelangelo Buonarroti, c. 1546.
146. The Fasting of St Carlo Borromeo. Oil painting by Daniele Crespi, c. 1625.
147. Madonna with the Pear. Oil painting by Giovanni Bellini, 15th century.
148. Longinus. Marble statue by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1629–38, St Peter’s, Rome.
149. The Crucifixion of St Peter. Oil painting by Peter Paul Rubens, 1638–40.
150. The Assumption of the Virgin. Oil painting by Titian, 1518, Sta Maria dei Frari, Venice.
151. Sinners saved by Penitence. Oil painting by Peter Paul Rubens, 1618.*
152. The Calling of St Matthew. Oil painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1599–1602.
153. David. Marble statue by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1623.
154. Apollo and Daphne. Marble statue by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1622–24.
155. Scipione Borghese. Marble portrait bust by Gianlorenzo Bernini, c. 1620s.
156. The Baldacchino, St Peter’s, Rome. Designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini, c. 1624.
[The Piazza, St Peter’s, Rome.]
157. Four Rivers Fountain, Piazza Navona, Rome. Designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1648–51.
158. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Marble sculpture by Gianlorenzo Bernini, 1649–52.
159. Triumph of Divine Providence and Barberini Power. Ceiling painting by Pietro da Cortona, 1633–39.
160. Groote Markt at Haarlem. Oil painting by Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde, 1692.
161. Assembly of Officers and Subalterns of the Civic Guard of St Adrien at Haarlem. Oil painting (detail) by Frans Hals, 1633.
162. Regents of the Old Men’s Home at Haarlem. Oil painting (detail) by Frans Hals, 1664.*
163. Seventeenth-century houses, Amsterdam.
164. De Staalmeesters. Oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1661–62.
165. An Interior, with a Woman drinking with Two Men. Oil painting by Pieter de Hooch, c. 1638.
166. The Card Players. Oil painting by Pieter de Hooch, c. late 1660s.
167. The Bull. Oil painting by Paulus Potter, 1647.
168. Self-portrait. Oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1665.
169. The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp. Oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1632.
170. The Prodigal Son. Etching by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1636.
171. Bathsheba Bathing. Oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1654.
172. Christ Preaching. Etching by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1652.
173. The Jewish Bride. Oil painting by Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1663.*
174. René Descartes. Oil painting by Frans Hals, c. 1649.
175. A View of Delft. Oil painting by Jan Vermeer, 1660s.
176. A Girl reading a Letter. Oil painting by Jan Vermeer, c. 1663–4.*
177. A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman (The Music Lesson). Oil painting by Jan Vermeer, c. 1665–75.*
178. Grote Kerk, Haarlem. Oil painting by Pieter Saenredam, 1636–7.
179. Las Meninas. Oil painting by Velázquez, 1656.
180. Octagon Room, Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Etching after Robert Thacker, 1676.
181. Circumferentor. Made by Johannes Macarius, 1676.
182. The Royal Hospital, Greenwich (north face). Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, begun in 1696.
183. Painted Hall, Royal Hospital, Greenwich.
184. St Paul’s Cathedral (south face), London. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, 1675–1710.
185. The east front of the Louvre. Designed by Claude Perrault, beginning in 1678.
186. S. Ivo della Sapienza, Rome. Designed by Francesco Borromini, 1642–61.
187. Angel detail from the organ, St Bavo’s Church, Haarlem. Design by Christian Müller and sculpture by Jan van Logteren, 1738.
188. Organ, St Bavo’s Church, Haarlem. Design by Christian Müller and sculpture by Jan van Logteren, 1738.
189. High Altar, Abbey Church of Vierzehnheiligen, Germany. Designed by Balthasar Neumann, 1743.*
190. Johann Sebastian Bach. Oil painting by E. G. Haussmann, 1746.
191. Detail from Europe. Part of the ceiling of the Rezidenz, Würzburg. Fresco by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1750–53.
192. America. Part of the ceiling of the Rezidenz, Würzburg. Fresco by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1750–53.*
193. The staircase of the Rezidenz, Würzburg. Designed by Balthasar Neumann, c. 1720. Ceiling fresco by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1750–53.
194. Handel. Marble statue by Louis Francois Roubillac, 1737.
195. Study of girls’ heads. Chalk drawing by Antoine Watteau, early 18th century.
[Another Watteau drawing of heads.]
196. Fétes Vénitiennes. Oil painting by Antoine Watteau, 1718–19.*
197. Gilles. Oil painting by Antoine Watteau, 1712.*
198. The Pilgrimage to Cythera. Oil painting by Antoine Watteau, 1712.
199. Decoration for the Music Room, Norfolk House, London, by Mayhew, 1756.
200. Interior of the Die Wies pilgrimage church, Bavaria. Decoration by Johann Baptist Zimmerman, 1745–54.
201. The Amalienburg, Munich: the Mirror Room. Designed by Francois de Cuvilliés, c. 1733.
202. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Oil painting by Joseph Lange, 1789.
203. Voltaire. Marble portrait bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1781.
204. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxford (north face). Designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, 1705–24.
205. Chiswick House, London. Designed by Lord Burlington, 1726.
206. Chairing the Member. Oil painting by William Hogarth, 1754–55.
207. Family Group. Oil painting by Arthur Devis, late 1740s.
(Different painting on the same subject by the same artist.)
208. A Midnight Modern Conversation. Engraving by William Hogarth, 1730.
209. La Lecture de Molière. Oil painting by Jean-Francois de Troy, c. 1728.*
210. Madame de Sorquainville. Oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1749.
211. Palais du Petit Trianon, Versailles. Designed by Jacques-Ange Gabriel, 1760s.
212. La Toilette du Matin. Oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Chardin, 1741.*
213. The Scullery Maid. Oil painting by Jean-Baptiste Chardin, c. 1738.
214. ‘N’ayez pas peur, ma bonne amie’. Engraving by Jean-Michel Moreau le June, c. 1775.
215. Le Déjeneur. Oil painting by Francois Boucher, 1739.*
216. Denis Diderot. Oil painting by Louis-Michel van Loo, 1767.
217. Experiment with an Air Pump. Oil painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768.
218. Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. Designed by Robert Adam, late 18th century.
219. Voltaire. Watercolour by Jean Huber, c. 1770.
220. The Oath of the Horatii. Oil painting by Jacques Louis David, 1785.*
221. Thomas Jefferson. Plaster bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1789.
222. Monticello, Virginia. Designed by Thomas Jefferson from 1769 onwards.
[The University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson.]
223. George Washington. Marble statue by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1788–92.
224. Landscape with a Bridge. Oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough, c. 1786.
225. Jean-Jacques Rousseau gathering herbs at Ermenoville. Ink and wash drawing by a French School artist, 18th century.
(Rousseau at Bienne, engraving.)
226. Der Lauteraargletscher. Oil painting by Caspar Wolf, 1776.
227. Matavi Bay with HMS Resolution and HMS Adventure with fishing craft. Oil painting by William Hodges, c. 1773.
[The evolutionary development of plants, engraving after Goethe.]
228. Man looking at Mountains, with a Rainbow. Oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich, 1810.*
229. Dove Cottage, Grasmere. Photograph.
230. Buttermere Lake, with a part of Cromackwater. Oil painting by J. M. W. Turner, 1796–8.
231. The Hay Wain. Oil painting by John Constable, 1821.*
232. Water Meadows near Salisbury. Oil painting by John Constable, 1829.
233. Flatford Mill (Boys fishing by the Stour). Oil painting by John Constable, 1818–23.
234. The Passage of Mount Cenis: Snowstorm. Watercolour by J. M. W. Turner, 1820.*
235. Waves breaking on a Lee Shore. Oil painting by J. M. W. Turner, c. 1835.*
236. Cloud Study. Oil painting by John Constable, c. 1821.
237. Study of Gneiss Rock, Glen Finlas. Drawing by John Ruskin, 1853.
238. Rain, Steam, Speed – the Great Western Railway. Oil painting by J. M. W. Turner, c. 1844.
239. La Grenouillère. Oil painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1869.
240. Water-lilies. Oil painting by Claude Monet, after 1916.*
241. Jeu de Paume, or The Tennis Court Oath, 6 June 1789. Oil painting by Jacques Louis David, c. 1791.
242. La Marseillaise. Group from the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. Stone relief by Francois Rude, 1833–36.
243. Madame Verninac. Oil painting by Jacques Louis David, 1799.
244. A Revolutionary Baptism (Le Culte naturel). Etching by Huyot, early 19th century.
245. The Death of Marat. Oil painting by Jacques Louis David, 1793.
[Napoleon’s library by Percier and Fontaine, Malmaison.]
246. The Coronation of Napoleon I as Emperor. Oil painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1806.
247. Napoleon Bonaparte crossing the Alps. Oil painting by Jacques Louis David, 1801.*
248. Ossian and Napoleon’s Marshalls. Oil painting by Anne Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, early 19th century.
249. 3 May 1808. Oil painting by Francisco de Goya, c. 1814.
250. The Wreck of the ‘Hope’ or The Arctic Shipwreck. Oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich, 1824.
251. The Raft of the Medusa. Oil painting by Théodore Géricault, 1819.
252. English scene (Poor Man seated). Lithograph by Théodore Géricault, 1821.
253. The Madman. Oil painting by Théodore Géricault, 1821–24.*
254. The Massacre at Scios. Oil painting by Eugène Delacroix, 1824.
255. The Lion Hunt. Oil painting by Eugène Delacroix, 1860–61.
256. Jacob wrestling with the Angel. Oil painting by Eugène Delacroix, 1859–63.
[Men setting their watches by the noon gun, lithograph by Gustave Doré.]
[Eve by Auguste Rodin.]
257. The Gates of Hell. Bronze door relief by Auguste Rodin, 1880–1900.
258. Balzac. Plaster sculpture by Auguste Rodin, c. 1897.
[Attila by Delacroix, Chamber of Deputies, Palais Bourbon, Paris.*]
259. Coalbrookdale by Night. Oil painting by Philippe de Loutherbourg, 1801.*
260. Children relieving a Beggar Boy (Rustic Charity). Mezzoting by C. Wilkin after William Beechey, 1796.
261. Plan of a slave ship, based on the brig Vigilante. Engraving by S. Croad, c. 1822.
262. Sir Richard Arkwright. Oil painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1789–90.
263. Christ stilleth the Tempest. Oil painting by John Martin, 1867.
264. Elizabeth Gurney (Fry). Drawing by Amelia Opie, c. 1799.
265. Scripture reader in a night shelter. Wood engraving by Pannemaker-Doms after Gustave Doré, 1870s.
266. Drawing for a single span bridge (London Bridge). Aquatint by Thomas Malton, c. 1801.
267. The Menai Suspension and Britannia Tubular Bridges. Lithograph by T. Picken after A.Y.S., mid 19th century.
(Different lithograph of the same bridge.)
268. Dinner in the half-completed Thames Tunnel. Artist unidentified, 1827.
269. Box tunnel. Wash drawing by John Cook Bourne, c. 1848.
270. The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, 1836–64.
271. Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Photograph by Robert Howlett, 1857.
272. Panoramic View of the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash. Lithograph by J. Needham after C. A. Scott, mid 19th century.
(Different picture of the same bridge.)
273. Construction of Brooklyn Bridge: laying the flooring. Photograph, 1881.
274. The Crystal Palace. Photograph, 1851.
[Peasant, drawing by Millet.]
275. Work. Oil painting by Ford Madox Brown, 1863.
276. Burial at Ornans. Oil painting by Gustave Courbet, 1849–50.
[Self-portrait with palette, oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh.*]
277. Bathers at Asnières. Oil painting by Georges Seurat, 1883–84.*
278. The Luncheon of the Boating Party. Oil painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1880–81.
279. Miners’ Wives. Watercolour by Vincent van Gogh, 1882.
280. Albert Einstein. Photograph by Karsh of Ottawa, 1948. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Feb 22, 2021 |
Kenneth Clark

Civilisation: A Personal View

Harper & Row, Hardback [1969].

4to. xviii+359 pp. Foreword by the author [xv-xviii]. 48 colour and 238 black-and-white illustrations. Index [349-59].

First published, 1969.


Colour illustrations
Black and white illustrations

1. The Skin of Our Teeth
2. The Great Thaw
3. Romance and Reality
4. Man – the Measure of all Things
5. The Hero as Artist
6. Protest and Communication
7. Grandeur and Obedience
8. The Light of Experience
9. The Pursuit of Happiness
10. The Smile of Reason
11. The Worship of Nature
12. The Fallacies of Hope
13. Heroic Materialism



I am in the minority who first experienced this book – well, as a book. I liked the illustrations but understood nothing of the text. In my defence, I was a kid at the time. I returned several times in later years and found myself increasingly less entertained by the illustrations but more and more interested in Clark’s erudite, opinionated and stimulating discourse.

Only recently have I finally seen the eponymous TV series from which the book was derived. The ritual question “the book or the movie” doesn’t really matter in this case, or rather the most sensible answer, as in the case of David Attenborough, is “both”. This is not what Sir Kenneth thinks. For him, the TV series is the thing:

Going through these scripts and comparing them in mind with the actual programs, I am miserably aware how much has been lost. In almost every one of them the strongest impact depended on factors that could not be conveyed in words. To take examples from one programme only, ‘The Fallacies of Hope’: the sound of the Marseillaise and the prisoners’ chorus from Fidelio, and the marvellous photography of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais: all these said what I wanted to say about the whole subject with a force and vividness which could never have been achieved by the printed page. I cannot distinguish between thought and feeling, and I am convinced that a combination of words and music, colour and movement can extend human experience in a way that words alone cannot do. For this reason I believe in television as a medium, and was prepared to give up two years writing to see what could be done with it. Thanks to skilful and imaginative directors and an expert camera crew, I believe that certain moments in the film were genuinely moving and enlightening. They are lost in a book.

There is wisdom in these words, and it is much to Clark’s credit that he paid attention to them in the series. The episodes make the best of many magnificent images captured “on location” and do benefit from many musical asides. But there is something to be said for the more leisurely and more detailed narrative in the book, especially when it is accompanied with nearly 300 excellent illustrations carefully chosen to illuminate the text. So, let’s read the book alone and see where this will lead us.

What is civilisation? That is the question. “I don’t know. I can’t define it in abstract terms – yet. But I think I can recognise it when I see it”. Clark is honest with his readers from the beginning. He never does define what civilisation is, but after 350 pages he certainly gives a very vivid idea of it. So, after the last page, you might say: “I can’t define civilisation in abstract terms, and I guess I’ll never be able to do that, but now I’m in a much better position to appreciate the contribution Western Europe has made to it.” Equally important, you will know some things civilisation is not:

People sometimes think that civilisation consists in fine sensibilities and good conversation and all that. These can be among the agreeable results of civilisation, but they are not what make a civilisation, and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid.

Words are poor things except in the hands of a poet, as Deryck Cooke wisely said, but they are all the would-be reviewer has at his disposal. So, what is civilisation, at least according to Kenneth Clark? Briefly, this is a culture abundant in energy, confidence and sense of permanence; invariably based on war in the beginning, but discarding such boorish behaviour as soon as possible. History of civilisation may look like history of art, but really it isn’t. Many primitive cultures produced striking works of art, but nothing even remotely like civilisation. Consider the Vikings. Their mighty ships are surely works of art. They certainly produced a culture. But was it civilisation? No, because they had no sense of past and future; they had no “sense of permanence”. And yet, Clark concludes, the Vikings brought something vital to European civilisation, the spirit of Columbus, and so earned their small but secure place in the first chapter.

The author admits in his Foreword that he would have liked to say more about law and philosophy, but he couldn’t think of a single way how to make them visually interesting; and space limitations, as in many other cases, also intervened. I might add Clark should have said a great deal more about science, which enjoys very few and rather slighting remarks (e.g. “the religion of science”). But, all things considered, art is the best criterion of all when a subject that vast must be compressed. And Clark is no fan of art for art’s sake: he uses it as an indicator of the intellectual and emotional climate of the times. By the way, “art” in this case means mostly painting and sculpture, rather less frequently music and architecture, and hardly ever literature. But I guess this, like the exclusion of ancient Egypt, Persia and the great civilisations of India and the Far East, is a sensible limitation. Too often this book (or the series) has been criticised too much because of those self-imposed and, come to think of it, impossible to avoid limitations.

Even confined to Western Europe in the last thousand years or so, it’s quite a journey Kenneth Clark invites us to make together. One curious thing about civilisation is that no matter how complex and sophisticated, no matter how indestructible it may seem, it is actually quite fragile. It can be destroyed, and it almost was in the dark ages after the fall of the Roman Empire. We escaped by “the skin of our teeth”. European civilisation moved from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and was for centuries reduced to a bunch of Christian monks copying ancient texts on the most inaccessible islands off the coast of Ireland or Scotland. Charlemagne laid the foundations of the new old European civilisation, bridging the Mediterranean and the Atlantic as it were (that’s why he is on the dust jacket of the Harper & Row edition), and “the great thaw” of the 12th century, which made the Church a mighty temporal force, solidified the change and gave birth to that quaint period know as the Age of Chivalry. The Renaissance and the Reformation paved the way to Enlightenment, Rococo, Classicism, Romanticism and the “heroic materialism” of modern times.

Kenneth Clark makes sense of all those capitalised abstractions better than just about any art historian known to me. He has done an unsurpassable job in compressing the whole of Western civilisation into mere 350 lavishly illustrated pages written in lucid and engaging prose quite accessible to every curious and moderately intelligent reader. As the subtitle rightly states, this is a “personal view”. It is replete with startling parallels, surprising details and sweeping generalisations. Omissions and inclusions are the product of a single mind, not always easy to follow, far from seldom impossible not to disagree with. But boring is one thing Clark never is, and even his most far-fetched notions are worth considering.

Consider the first two chapters alone. It is doubtful whether we owe the notion of united Europe to Charlemagne, but this pardonable exaggeration is a telling way of expressing the vast importance of this ruler. It is not such a wild overstatement that he saved Western civilisation single-handedly. (He sure earned that dust jacket!) The 10th century, far from being a dark age, produced art as beautiful and delicate as any – and the 12th produced the Gothic style in the space of a single lifetime and seemingly out of nothing, not unlike the miraculous birth of Classical Greece. Who but Kenneth Clark would spend so much attention on Gislebertus, the sculptor of the cathedral of Autun, an extrovert storyteller with a taste for horror, who just by the way carved the first female nude (an Eve, of course) since antiquity? Who but Kenneth Clark would extol the faces of the kings and queens at the entrance of the Chartres Cathedral as something entirely new, more human and more spiritual than the cold and arrogant Greek gods and goddesses? Indeed, isn’t it strange to think of the medieval church as a democratic institution that championed internationalism long before modern science made it commonplace?

You might say it’s easy to be stirring about obscure stuff like that. Fair enough. Let us then consider a couple of superstars, say, Mozart and Michelangelo. Names in Western civilisation don’t get any bigger than these. Fantastic amount has been written about them, much of it sheer claptrap. Well, Kenneth Clark acquits himself with distinction:

Only twenty-five years separate Michelangelo’s marble hero from the dapper little figure, which had been the last word in Medician elegance, the David of Verrocchio: and one sees that there really has been a turning-point in the human spirit. The Verrocchio is light, nimble, smiling – and clothed. The Michelangelo is vast, defiant and nude. It’s rather the same as the progression that we shall find in music between Mozart and Beethoven.

Seen by itself the
David’s body might be some unusually taut and vivid work of antiquity: it is only when we come to the head that we are aware of a spiritual force that the ancient world never knew. I suppose that this quality, which I may call heroic, is not a part of most people’s idea of civilisation. It involves a contempt for convenience and a sacrifice of all those pleasures that contribute to what we call civilised life. It is the enemy of happiness. And yet we recognise that to despise material obstacles, and even to defy the blind forces of fate, is man’s supreme achievement; and since, in the end, civilisation depends on man extending his powers of mind and spirit to the utmost, we must reckon the emergence of Michelangelo as one of the great events in the history of western man.


And yet to pronounce the name of Mozart in the Amalienburg is dangerous. It gives colour – very pretty colour – to the notion that Mozart was merely a Rococo composer. Fifty years ago that was what most people thought of him, and the notion was supported by horrible little plaster busts which made him look the perfect eighteenth-century dummy. I bought one of these busts when I was at school, but when I first heard the G minor Quintet I realised that it couldn’t have been written by the smooth, white character on my mantelpiece and threw the bust into the wastepaper basket. I afterwards discovered the Lange portrait which, although no masterpiece, does convey the single-mindedness of genius. Of course a lot of Mozart’s music is in the current eighteenth-century style. He was so much at home in this golden age of music, and so completely the master of its forms, that he didn’t feel it necessary to destroy them. Indeed he loved the clarity and the precision that had been brought to perfection in the music of his time. I like the story of Mozart sitting at the table absentmindedly folding and refolding his napkin into more and more elaborate patterns, as fresh musical ideas passed through his mind. But this formal perfection was used to express two characteristics which were very far from the Rococo style. One of them was that peculiar kind of melancholy, a melancholy amounting almost to panic, which so often haunts the isolation of genius. Mozart felt it quite young. The other characteristic was almost the opposite: a passionate interest in human beings, and in the drama of human relationships. How often in Mozart’s orchestral pieces – concertos or quartets – we find ourselves participating in a drama or dialogue; and of course this feeling reaches its natural conclusion in opera.

Such examples of provocative opinions combined with incisive pen portraits can be multiplied quite easily. You may agree or disagree that Shakespeare is the ultimate pessimist, but isn’t it fascinating to think of his mature plays as, “among other things, the poetical fulfilment of Montaigne’s intellectual honesty”? Erasmus as the first popular journalist is another charming notion, and a fine excuse to reconsider the value of printing for civilisation. It is often deemed indispensable, yet Greece of the 5th century BC and Chartres of the 12th century AD did very well without it: were they less civilised than more recent times? It is perhaps a trifle harsh to saddle the northern man with “an earthy, animal hostility to reason and decorum” that is “fundamentally opposed to civilisation”, but that may well explain why Germany has produced the best music and the worst philosophy in the world. As for the pen portraits, Clark humanises with a few strokes of his verbal brush anybody from St Francis and Dante to Erasmus and Rembrandt. It’s quite an achievement to give, in a single chapter, a vivid impression of Michelangelo’s titanic timelessness, Raphael’s sense of moderation, and Leonardo’s restless curiosity, but Sir Kenneth manages even that.

Kenneth Clark’s own personality is just as palpable on these pages as any other. Many have found him arrogant and snobbish. I can’t say that I have. The very subtitle, “A Personal View”, is a proof against arrogance. Clark never pretends to have the ultimate truth on any question, merely his personal opinions, and he states those without looking down on you. The ability to show your erudition without showing off is not only far from arrogance, but constitutes a rare gift in itself. As for the snobbishness, this is based on a grain of truth. But I would call it a healthy dose of elitism: “one can’t help wondering how far civilisation would have evolved if it had been entirely dependent on the popular will”. Look at the present incarnations of “representative democracy” (surely an oxymoron!) and you might concede Clark does have a point. Likewise with his strong support of internationalism and almost as strong opposition to restoration (it’s one thing to clear carefully, it’s quite another to repaint recklessly). I guess the notion of Catholicism as humanising force during the Renaissance and even the Middle Ages, to say nothing of Protestantism as barbarous and destructive, might ruffle quite a few feathers. But I, for one, am willing to give it a thought. Agree or disagree, even Clark’s most controversial opinions seldom fail to ignite a thought process.

It’s no use rambling on like that. Civilisation is a truly inexhaustible book. It is indeed a very personal view and must, therefore, be experienced on a personal level. Should you find the personality congenial, it’s a journey you’ll never forget and often return to. This was my fourth (I think) reading from cover to cover and I found it as entertaining and thought-provoking as ever, if anything even more so. ( )
1 vote Waldstein | Dec 1, 2020 |
Great dialog on art...good timelines... ( )
  Brightman | May 12, 2019 |
The Art history is conveniently arranged, and the illustrations are tasteful. He's not casting his definition of "Civilization" widely enough to suit me. I much prefer the twelve volume effort by Will and Ariel Durant. He believes that Civilization is best curated by a very narrow set of editors, such as himself. I don't think a view of such a narrow set of criteria defines what could be defined as a Civilization" by the human race's past history. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 30, 2018 |
Dit boek is meer dan 50 jaar oud, en slechts de papieren weergave van een uitgebreide BBC-TV-reeks. Ik zag als jong broekje een herhaling uit de jaren '70, en was erg onder de indruk van de eruditie van Clark en zijn uitgesproken visie. Zoveel jaren later is die visie natuurlijk erg verouderd; alleen al de eng-westerse focus zou vandaag helemaal uit den boze zijn; bovendien waagt Clark zich helemaal niet aan de twintigste eeuwse kunst, al hebben we wel de indruk dat zijn mening daarover niet zo flatterend is. Je vindt in het boek ook uitlatingen waar we vandaag beschaamd voor zouden zijn (over de drang van Duitsers tot hysterie, bijvoorbeeld). Maar dat neemt niet weg dat het toch een hele krachttoer blijft om al die verschillende kunstgenres in één omvattende visie te krijgen. Bovendien was het ook leuk om te zien hoe Clark het begrip "beschaving" erg omschrijvend benadert en er zich niet van af maakt met een ogenschijnlijk simpele definitie. Tenslotte kan ik het niet laten zijn slotregels te herhalen, een geloofsbelijdenis die onverminderd geldingskracht heeft: “I believe order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven't changed much in the last two thousand years; and in consequence we must try to learn from history.” ( )
  bookomaniac | May 19, 2015 |
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Kenneth Clark's sweeping narrative looks at how Western Europe evolved in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire, to produce the ideas, books, buildings, works of art and great individuals that make up our civilisation. The author takes us from Iona in the ninth century to France in the twelfth, from Florence to Urbino, from Germany to Rome, England, Holland and America. Against these historical backgrounds he sketches an extraordinary cast of characters -- the men and women who gave new energy to civilisation and expanded our understanding of the world and of ourselves. He also highlights the works of genius they produced -- in architecture, sculpture and painting, in philosophy, poetry and music, and in science and engineering, from Raphael's School of Athens to the bridges of Brunel.

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