From Van Eyck to Botticelli

Skira, $20.00.
This latest volume in the series, “The Great Centuries of Painting,” is devoted to the fifteenth century: it traces the development of the Renaissance from the experimental artists of Italy and Flanders to the rich flowering of European art in the latter part of the fourteen-hundreds. The authors of the critical and historical text — Jacques Lassaigne and Giulio Carlo Argan—observe in a prefatory note: “One of the chief aims of this book ... is to show that, despite a long-established tradition to the contrary, the Renaissance was not a specifically Italian cultural and artistic movement. . . . As early as the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Renaissance was in effect a Europe-wide phenomenon.”No praise could be too high for the quality of the 116 color plates. Among the paintings represented here are many masterpieces of the early Renaissance seldom seen in reproduction. Unquestionably one of the year’s outstanding art books.