Ernst Gombrich was one of the greatest and least conventional art historians of his age, achieving fame and distinction in three separate spheres: as a scholar, as a popularizer of art, and as a pioneer of the application of the psychology of perception to the study of art. His best-known book, The Story of Art - first published 50 years ago and now in its sixteenth edition - is one of the most influential books ever written about art. His books further include The Sense of Order (1979) and The Preference for the Primitive (2002), as well as a total of 11 volumes of collected essays and reviews. Gombrich was born in Vienna in 1909 and died in London in November 2001. He came to London in 1936 to work at the Warburg Institute, where he eventually became Director from 1959 until his retirement in 1976. He won numerous international honours, including a knighthood, the Order of Merit and the Goethe, Hegel and Erasmus prizes. Gifted with a powerful mind and prodigious memory, he was also an outstanding communicator, with a clear and forceful prose style. His works are models of good art-historical writing, and reflect his humanism and his deep and abiding concern with the standards and values of our cultural heritage.
"Like every art historian of my generation, my way of thinking about pictures has been in large measure shaped by Ernst Gombrich. I was 15 when I read The Story of Art and like millions since, I felt I had been given a map of a great country, and with it the confidence to explore further without fear of being overwhelmed."-Neil MacGregor, former Director of the National Gallery, London, 1995 "Almost as well known as the Mona Lisa, Sir ErnstGombrich's The Story of Art unites learning and pleasure."-Pierre Rosenberg, President-Directeur, Musee du Louvre, Paris "More people... have been introduced to the world of fine art, in the last 45 years, though Ernst Gombrich's The Story of Art than through any other single book."-Christopher Frayling, Professor of Cultural History, Royal College of Art, London "The country's bestselling book on art, never out of print, still in demand (and not just by students) and one of the few 'gift books' that actually gets read. The work is not so simplistic as the title implies, but it is this very title that rendered the book enormously attractive in 1950 to a new sort of book buyer: the self-educator. This field was set to grow, publishers eagerly wooing punters into buying the one big book on every impossibly massive but key subject. But with Gombrich, art was all sewn up."-The Times "The Story of Art has just about everything you need to follow the course of art from cave painting to David Hockney. I am surprised it's not yet been placed in hotels on the bedside table along with Gideon's Bible since Gombrich is as authoritative as the voice of God. The book has always been a pleasure to read and handle, the colour plates, now with many new additions, are excellent and the text is clear and straightforward, devoid of both pedantry and academic tedium."-The Birmingham Post "As a humane, uncomplicated but unpatronising account of art from prehistoric cave daubs to twentieth-century splurges, Gombrich's Story of Art is just what its title promises: more of a story than a work of reference, yet that as well."-Business Weekly "A wise and wide-ranging introduction to art history that will last and last."-The List "Lucid and endlessly informative."-The Good Book Guide "His populist approach comes from his childhood in Vienna, where art was for everyone, not just for stuffed shirts."-The Mail on Sunday "Thinking about building your dream library and brightening your coffee table with eye-candy and conversation starters? Look no further than Phaidon books."-Big Life Magazine "Gombrich's The Story of Art was the very first book I bought on Art... An ideal book for anybody who is just discovering Art for the first time. He is accessible without talking down. He looks at the great masterpieces and only writes about what he can illustrate. The illustrations are wonderful."-MatureTimes.co.uk "...Has made art history accessible to generations of readers."-The Hollywood Reporter Online "The ultimate gift purchase for all art lovers - a perfect keepsake to treasure and to inspire future generations."-WhatsGoodOnline.co.uk