What Is the First Art History Book?

Art|Art History

The First Art History Book is a fascinating look into the history of art and its significance throughout the ages. It is a collection of essays and images that document the evolution of art from its earliest beginnings to the present day. The book was written by renowned art historian and curator, Ernst Gombrich, in 1960 and has been a cornerstone in the field ever since.

Early Beginnings

The First Art History Book begins with an exploration of prehistoric art from the Paleolithic era. Gombrich examines cave paintings and sculptures from this time period, discussing how they reflect the beliefs and values of their creators.

He then moves on to discuss ancient Near Eastern civilizations, looking at their contribution to art history as well as their influence on later cultures. This section also covers Greco-Roman art, which Gombrich believes is one of the most significant influences on modern western art.

Renaissance Art

Gombrich then moves on to discuss Renaissance art in Europe, examining how it was both influenced by classical styles and original in its own right. He looks at various Renaissance masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, exploring their works in detail and making connections between them. He also takes a look at Baroque art from Italy and Northern Europe, noting how it developed out of Renaissance traditions but also featured its own unique characteristics.

Modern Art

The final section of The First Art History Book focuses on modern art movements such as Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Postmodernism, and New Media Arts. Gombrich looks at how these movements developed out of earlier traditions while also introducing new elements into the mix. He examines how each movement has had a lasting impact on contemporary culture while also looking ahead to future trends in the field.


The First Art History Book is an essential resource for anyone interested in learning about art history or understanding its evolution over time. It offers an insightful look into different eras and movements that have shaped our understanding of both visual arts and culture today. Whether you’re a student or just curious about this fascinating subject matter, this book is sure to offer something interesting for all readers!