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Florence & Baghdad: Renaissance Art and Arab Science

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  23 ratings  ·  5 reviews
The use of perspective in Renaissance painting caused a revolution in the history of seeing, allowing artists to depict the world from a spectator's point of view. But the theory of perspective that changed the course of Western art originated elsewhere-it was formulated in Baghdad by the eleventh-century mathematician Ibn al Haithan, known in the West as Alhazen. Using th ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published August 31st 2011 by Belknap Press (first published 2008)
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I don't know very much at all about art or art history (or optics for that matter), but from a layman's perspective I thought that this was a really fascinating book and it changed the way that thought about art in a couple of ways.

Belting's main focus is the the place of linear perspective in western art and it's indebtedness to Arab science, particularly the 10th/11th century scientist Ibn al-Haithan (known in Europe as Alhazen). Perspective, originally a scientific theory, was translated into
A nice example of comparative history taking two familiar topic areas - the history of optics during the Arab 11th century, and the invention of perspective in Renaissance Italy two to three centuries later - and bringing them together in a way that puts both subjects in a new 'perspective.' The crux of the comparison is the image, or picture, and why it emerged as the focus of Italian art in the 14th century, but not in the Muslim world.

Already this language does not do justice to Belting's pr
Belting verknüpft Kunstgeschichte mit einer Theorie des Sehens. Er erklärt, dass im Westen und Osten der Welt anders gesehen wird. Während sich der Westen rasch auf "Bilder" konzentrierte, arbeitete die Kunst des Orients mit Geometrie und Schrift. Er beschreibt wie Alhazen seine neuen optischen Erkenntnisse entwickelte, ohne die der Westen die Theorie der Perspektive nicht hätte erfinden können. Ein interessantes und lesenswertes Buch!
A bit long winded and, at times, repetitive but some very detailed and intriguing research on Islamic mathematics and Western painting tradition.
Thought provoking long after last page turned. Insight into (normally invisible) norms of depicting.
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Hans Belting is a German art historian and theorist of medieval and Renaissance art, as well as contemporary art and image theory.

He was born in Andernach, Germany, and studied at the universities of Mainz and Rome, and took his doctorate in art history at the University of Mainz. Subsequently he has held a fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard University), Washington, D.C.
More about Hans Belting...
Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body The End of the History of Art? Art History after Modernism

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