Art Books - Old Masters List

1:50 PM


I feel like I am in a stage with my art right now where my works are definitely my own, but I'm feeling ready to embark on a grand journey of change and I can't decide which of the roads to take. These changes happen to an artist work during their life I've found. Unconsciously or not. Sometimes I like to be aware of the change, sometimes not; sometimes it's for the better, sometimes it's not necessarily for the better, but it all works out eventually.

I've been pouring over lots of other artists' work lately, both from the old masters and my contemporaries, because if I am ever in a slump, not knowing what to paint, or not fully appreciating what art can be, or, like I mentioned earlier, looking for a bit of a change, I always open my art books. I love the ones that are primarily "picture books" with a little bit of history or interpretation; you know, the books with the BIG pictures in full color from the masters that tempt you to take the picture from the book and hang it on your wall (which I have yet to do! But I'm tempted daily.)

Recently, Mr. Nightingale and I have been into this thing where the best idea of a date is a cheap drive through (dollar menus are extraordinary!) and a used book store, because Chicago has a pretty great number of them. I'd been hunting for two books in particular, a Mary Cassatt book and a John Singer Sargent book. In the end, Chicago's used book stores delivered(!) and now I'm ready to order more copies because these books are worth more than gold to me!


I want to share not only those two books I was hunting for, but a few of my other favorites, too! I don't own them all personally . . . yet, but my birthday is coming up! but I have explored their beautiful pages a few times in other artist's studios. They are definitely on my to-buy list, and should be on yours too! These books are eye candy to artist and non-artist alike! They will not disappoint!



1. John Singer Sargent by Kate F. Jennings  (pictured above)
Big, beautiful reproductions of both famous and lesser-known Sargent paintings. There's a particular painting reproduction of a little girl with a hat that has outstanding color and detail. Unlike anywhere else I have seen. I found my copy for $12 and that painting reproduction alone was enough to sell me on it! It's not a huge book in terms of page numbers, and it's just a small collection of his work, but I am thrilled to have found it.

2. Mary Cassatt: Paintings and Prints by Frank Getlein (pictured above)
I sorted through five or six Mary Cassatt books before choosing this one. It's about 150 pages with great, large prints on nearly every page and beautiful interpretations of paintings and their history on the side. It's a pleasure to read and even more so just to look at! The details you can see in the paintings are exquisite! I am so happy to have found it!

3. Anders Zorn: Sweden's Master Painter by Johan Cederlund
This book is on my Amazon Wish List, and will probably be my next purchase. I feel like such a newbie to Anders Zorn, and it's only been, truly, a few years that I have known about him, but every time I see his work I am enchanted by it's beautiful subtleties against rawness. I saw this book in an artist's studio in Southern California about three years ago, and have been thinking about it ever since.

4. Sorolla: The Masterworks by Blanca Pons-Sorolla 
Another book from my Amazon Wish List! I feel this need to know Sorolla's book better because one of my favorite artists and one of my very first art teachers, Victoria Brooks, loves Sorolla's work dearly. Sorolla's work is outstandingly luminous and he is the ultimate plein air artist in my opinion. The way he creates atmosphere is something to be in awe over. I can't wait to pour over these pages.

5. Rockwell on Rockwell by Norman Rockwell
This book, though not completely full of full-page reproductions and eye candy that I love, must be included on this list because, well, it's one of my very favorites. I first found this book in William Whittaker's studio during an apprenticeship. Bill saw me looking at it and said, "why don't you just pull up a chair by the fireplace, forget your paints today, and learn from Mr. Rockwell! He has a lot to teach you! A fabulous book!" I read nearly the entire thing that day, and I would reread it again in a heart beat! This one is a must to any art book collection. Even if you are not an artist, I think you would benefit from learning how Norman Rockwell's mind worked a little bit. He's the ultimate story teller in pictures.

(Update)
6. Peder Mork Mønsted: 80 Realist Paintings by Daniele Ankele
I'm actually rewriting this blog post just to add this book! It's currently downloading onto my iPad and I'm really excited. I found Peder Mork Mønsted's work on Pinterest a while ago and have been utterly infatuated with his landscapes. I'll keep you posted! In the meantime, please follow along on my Pinterest @sarahcroft for some extra eye-candy. I pin a lot of art! ;)

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