History of Art introductory reading list

The most important preparation involves learning to train your visual memory and to develop your own critical skills. Visit as many museums and exhibitions as you can, taking descriptive notes of what you see. Visit buildings such as churches or country houses; you may find it helpful to record them photographically. Start collecting postcards, which can be stored in a card-index box. Don't be afraid to sketch, even if you have no artistic talent. It is an excellent way of remembering images, and you will be amazed how quickly your drawings improve.

When a work of art or architecture excites you, try to analyse why it has this effect.

The other essential preparation is to gain a firm grounding in iconography by improving your knowledge of the Bible and classical mythology. A good basic knowledge of European history is also extremely useful.

The course does not require any specific prior knowledge of the History of Art, but you may like to read some of the following books before you come up to Cambridge.

Surveys

Reference books

You may like to buy the following titles, which will be useful throughout the course:

Historical Approaches

During the course you will study the critical approaches of past authors, many of whom offer inspiring views of the subject. Examples include:

Special Topics

Finally, some suggestions for more specialised reading:

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