Welcome to the living art book archive! I have divided this page up into two section: general art books and links to lists of books for specific artists. On the individual artist pages, I have included books that are good for both the teacher as well as the students. In the cases where the books are meant for children, I have included ages. If there are no ages listed, those books are meant for adults or older students who are prepared for more mature material.
In all cases, I recommend pre-reading the books to make sure they align with your family’s values!
Please note also that this archive is a work in progress! I hope to add books as I find them and if you have recommendations, please let me know!
General Art Books
Below are books that cover a broad range of artists and/or topics related to art.
Schools of Painting
By Mary Innes
This book was apparently used with upper forms in the PNEU schools as noted in this excerpt from an article by E.C. Plumptre written in the middle of the 20th century: “From fifteen years old upwards Picture Study assumes a slightly different aspect. The history of the development of the ‘schools’ of Western European Painting is being studied in Mary Innes’ book, and the artist for the term takes his place in this development or in relation to other members of the same school.” I have found parts of this book to be out-of-date in terms of what more research suggests, however, I’m still posting it here as I have found other parts of it to be very helpful and included excerpts in my Picture Study Aids. (You can also read it free on Archive.)
The Story of Painting
By H.W. Janson
“Here is a volume as rare as it is beautiful. It is a picture gallery, with more – and larger – color plates than have ever before appeared in a book of this sort; and at the same time, it is a remarkable and even exciting story of how painting began and how it developed through the ages.”
The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
By Giorgio Vasari (trans. by Gaston du C. de Vere)
Girogio Vasari, a skilled artist in his own right, gave the world a gift when he recorded impressions, histories, and facts about some of the most well-known artists of the Italian Renaissance, many of which were his contemporaries and friends. This book contains some of the most famous names, but you can also find free versions of the Lives on Gutenberg that include all of the artists about which he wrote.
You can often find coffee table, large-format art books in the discount section of Barnes and Noble or other book stores for specific artists. These are usually a great way to have a good sampling of an artist’s oeuvre at your fingertips, so if you can get one of these at a good price, I recommend adding them to your collection. As always, be sure you look through them before handing them to your child as many art books may include nudity or adult themes.
(listed in alphabetical order by last name or first name if better known by just that, e.g. Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, etc.)