The Story of Art – E. H. Gombrich

The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich is one of the first books that come to mind about books about art, first published in 1950. Although it has been a long time since it was first published, this beautiful book, which has managed to preserve its currentness to a certain extent with updates, is among those that can be a bedside book for any reader who wants to learn more about art.


The Story of Art is not a book to be read in one or two sittings in terms of its content and physical weight. It consists of many sections that are connected to each other but can also be read independently depending on interest. Gombrich included photographs of the artworks he mentioned in the book; otherwise, it would have been a relatively dry read.

This book has not lost its popularity for all these years because the author shares the history of art with the reader in a way that everyone can understand. I think it is a good resource for readers who want to learn how this thing called art emerged and how some movements came to life, rather than people who are already interested in art.

The Story of Art - E. H. Gombrich

In The Story of Art, the author states that there are too many artists and works that he wanted to talk about at the very beginning of the book, but he limited himself because he knew that such a book would be too thick to read. I read the book purely for pleasure and without any concern for forgetting what I learned. I wanted to examine the works of art in detail from time to time and see other works of the artists mentioned, so I left the book and ran to the internet; hence, it was a slow read. When I finished it, I realized that I agreed with Gombrich’s statement that there is no art; there are artists.

The Story of Art made me wonder why I’m so interested in some artists and not at all with some. It was delightful to see how artists have changed over the centuries and to read how change and differentiation have become indispensable for artists after a while. I discovered dozens of artists that I didn’t know existed, as well as artists I loved and was familiar with. I have dwelled a lot on the artist’s passion for production. Especially in the last episodes, I couldn’t help but wonder what Gombrich would think about NFTs and the money spent on them if he were still alive.

The Story of Art is easy to read; It is a book that teaches a lot and at the same time makes people think. However, if you say that you are not interested in the story of art but the benefit it will provide you, I recommend Alain de Botton’s book called Art as Therapy. Enjoy!

The Story of Art - E. H. Gombrich

The Story of Art

The Story of Art, one of the most famous and popular books on art ever written, has been a world bestseller for over four decades. Attracted by the simplicity and clarity of his writing, readers of all ages and backgrounds have found in Professor Gombrich a true master, and one who combines knowledge and wisdom with a unique gift for communicating his deep love of the subject.

For the first time in many years the book has been completely redesigned. The illustrations, now in colour throughout, have all been improved and reoriginated, and include six fold-outs. The text has been revised and updated where appropriate, and a number of significant new artists have been incorporated. The bibliographies have been expanded and updated, and the maps and charts redrawn.

The Story of Art has always been admired for two key qualities: it is a pleasure to read and a pleasure to handle. In these respects the new edition is true to its much-loved predecessors: the text runs as smoothly as ever and the improved illustrations are always on the page where the reader needs them. In its new edition, this classic work continues its triumphant progress tirelessly for yet another generation, to remain the title of first choice for any newcomer to art or the connoisseur.

E. H. Gombrich

Ernst H. Gombrich , in full Sir Ernst Hans Josef Gombrich, (born March 30, 1909, Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now in Austria]—died November 3, 2001, London, England), Austrian-born art historian who was one of the field’s greatest popularizers, introducing art to a wide audience through his best-known book, The Story of Art (1950; 16th rev. ed. 1995).

Gombrich studied art history under Julius von Schlosser at the University of Vienna. In 1936 he moved to London, where he became a research assistant at the Warburg Institute. During World War II he worked at the British Broadcasting Corporation, translating German-language radio broadcasts. In 1946 he returned to the institute and held a series of positions there before becoming director in 1959; he remained at the post until his retirement in 1976. Gombrich also held academic appointments at the Universities of Oxford, London, and Cambridge, as well as at Harvard and Cornell universities in the United States.

Gombrich’s first book, Weltgeschichte von der Urzeit bis zur Gegenwart (1936)—also published as Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser (1985; “A Short History of the World for Children”) and in English as A Little History of the World (2005)—led to the idea of an art book for children. The result was The Story of Art, a clearly written work that appealed to both youth and adults.

Eschewing aesthetics and art criticism, which he considered too deeply rooted in personal emotions, Gombrich focused on iconography and innovations in technique, taste, and form as demonstrated in specific works by individual artists. He also had little use for modernism, which he derided as overly commercial and too often bent on novelty for its own sake. An international best seller, The Story of Art was translated into more than 20 languages.

Also influential was Art and Illusion (1960), in which Gombrich examined how people perceive images. Other notable works included Meditations on a Hobby Horse, and Other Essays on the Theory of Art (1963), The Sense of Order (1979), and The Image and the Eye (1981). The recipient of numerous honours, Gombrich was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1960. He later was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1966), knighted (1972), and appointed a member of the Order of Merit (1988).

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Books about Art and Artists

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