The Birth of Western Painting

Robert Byron's illustrated study of Byzantine art


Robert Byron, and David Talbot Rice


George Routledge & Sons, London, 1930
The Birth of Western PaintingThe Birth of Western PaintingThe Birth of Western Painting

Printing Details

First edition, limited to 650 copies (this one unnumbered, a presentation copy?). Quarter white buckram with red/brown cloth covered boards. Gilt titling to spine and gilt motif to upper board. 29 × 22cm, xviii + 236pp + 94 plates.

Full title: The Birth of Western Painting. A History of Colour, Form, and Iconography illustrated from the Paintings of Mistra and Mount Athos, of Giotto and Duccio, and of El Greco.

The text was by Robert Byron, the images by David Talbot Rice. This book deals with Byzantine art, not as an isolated province, but as one intimately connected with the subsequent history of European painting. After a summary of the whole question in its relation to modern art, the second chapter opens with a novel analysis of the iconoclast controversy, and shows how it was only by this movement that Hellenistic naturalism was finally vanquished and the seed of interpretational art planted in Europe in its stead. The third chapter reveals how this seed was nourished by the Constantinopolitan Renascence, and how that event, combined with the increasing humanisation of religious emotion, culminated, not only in Duccio and Giotto, but in the equally important work of their contemporaries at Mistra and Mount Athos. A detailed account of these works is given and in the last part of the book, the mystery of El Greco is finally resolved.


This copy is in very good condition. The pages are clean and the inner binding secure. There are light speckles of foxing to the fore-edge and top edge. The front hinge is starting, there is minor bumping to the corners and the spine ends. Previous owner's name to half-title (G de B Tower), ad the terminal blank has a page of erased but just about visible pencil writing being an excerpt from Byron's The Byzantine Achievement. Overall, a very good copy.

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The Birth of Western PaintingThe Birth of Western PaintingThe Birth of Western Painting

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