was published in paperback in its third, updated edition,
with a preface by Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich, in November 1997
256 pages 223 x 146 mm 8 colour plates and 116 black & white illustrations
Comments from readers and reviewers
Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich in his preface to the third edition: 'There are writings on art which are destined to remain valid, even when the evidence on which they were originally based has meanwhile been revised or expanded... Lawrence Gowing's monograph on Vermeer... belongs to this class... This multi-layered reading of the oeuvre surely remains unaffected by the progressive expansion of our knowledge that has occurred in the intervening years.'
Svetlana Alpers, 1997: 'Gowing's text remains the single best sustained piece of critical writing in English that exists on Vermeer.'
Alistair Smith in Museums Journal: 'Art books are rarely works of art. To this rule, Professor Gowing's Vermeer is a great exception and one is grateful for this new edition ...It constitutes one of the most perfect extended pieces of stylistic criticism to emerge in recent years...The total book casts so many shafts of illumination not only on to the nature of Vermeer's art, but on art itself, that it will reward reading and re-reading.'
John Berger on the first edition: '...finely balanced between painterly -- almost poetic -- insight and factual scholarship...it is undoubtedly the best and most profound book on Vermeer in the English language...His analysis of Vermeer's temperament and the nature of his genius as revealed in his work is very impressive and stimulating.'
Chosen in 1999 as one of
Random House Modern Library's
100 best non-fiction books of the 20th century
We are delighted to have reissued this classic work in the field of art history, in an updated third edition, for the first time in paperback. It has a fresh preface by Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich, and starts with a late essay on Vermeer, 'Counterfeiter of Grace', written by Lawrence Gowing shortly before his death in 1991, in which he sums up recent Vermeer research. All the illustrations have been newly reproduced.
Sir Lawrence Gowing, who died in 1991, was one of the most penetrating and inspiring art-historians of his time, writing prolifically on a multitude of subjects from Masaccio, Bruegel, Goya and Turner to Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso and Francis Bacon. He was also a painter with an international reputation. No one has written more convincingly on the theme of creativity in art. He was, among other things, Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London from 1975 to 1985 and Curatorial Chairman of the Phillips Collection in Washington from 1987 to 1989. Recent books include Lucien Freud (1982) and Paul Cézanne: the Early Years (1988). His three series of television films featuring nine great masters in all between 1984 and 1988, some of them now available as videos, brought his genius into contact with the general public.