The Great Age of Sail: Maritime Art and Photography

Peter Kemp, Author, Richard Ormond, With Facts on File $29.95 (127p) ISBN 978-0-8160-1414-9
With the aim of expanding access to the formidable collection of paintings, etchings and photographs housed by the British National Maritime Museum, this collaboration by historian Kemp (The Oxford Companion to Ships and the museum's director Ormond proves a disappointingly pictorial history, overly ambitious in its attempt to condense four centuries of naval exploits into roughly 100 pages. The survey of global developments in shipping and major sea battles spanning the Renaissance, 18th and 19th centuries is episodic and fairly pat, with the artwork serving to illustrate rather than inspire the text. While individual sections are devoted to the Dutch and British schools of marine paintingthere is a fine selection of Van de Velde ship portraits, naval paintings by Scott and Brooking, and seascapes by Hodges and Turnerlittle attempt is made to convey a sense of art historical continuity in terms of the changing formal vision of a common subject matter. Had the authors integrated history and art in a more imaginative format, with greater concern for the book's design (the figures are, unfortunately, black-and-white reproductions, with a brief series of color plates poorly placed at the end), the collection might have been shown more advantageously and made compelling for readers who are sparked by ideas and not simply facts. BOMC/Dolphin Book Club alternate. (October 17)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 10/01/1986
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-7148-2844-2
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