“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:Its loveliness increases…” decalred John keats. “On beauty”,
edited by the great thinker and writer Umberto Eco is such a thing of Beauty that can enthral any bibliophile. Although it deals with the history of Western idea, it is a piece of Art to be treasured not only by the artists or connoisseurs, but by the general reader who has a taste in art. How the passion of beauty has shaped the human civilization from the ancient days to modern times has been reflected in the book in a very colourful and artistic way. Besides fine arts like Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, photography and various other forms of decorative arts, it also deals with literature, philosophy, aesthetics etc. which radiate beauty in myriad forms. The various chapters of the book signify its depth. It starts with the Aesthetic Ideal in Ancient Greece and discusses Apollonian and Dionysiac Beauty, Beauty as Proportion and Harmony, Light and Colour in Middle Ages, reason and Beauty, the Sublime, Romantic Beauty,Religion of Beauty, The Beauty of Media etc. the book is profusely illustrated and immensely readable.
The colour paintings and photographs which form a part of the Introduction, have been arranged in a brilliant way. The images under the caption “Venus Nude” not only includes famous paintings, but also Photographs of some of the most beautiful women of our time like Joshephine Baker, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Monica Bellucci etc. revealing their beauty in various states of undress. Under the “Portraits of Venus” caption, we have some of the most remarkable performers of our time like Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot etc., besides famous paintings of famous artists. The “Venus clothed” section includes photographs of Colette, Anita Ekberg etc. besides renowned paintings like da Vinci’s “Monalisa”, Mangin’s “Sappho”, Titian’s “La Bella” etc. . The male has been represented under the captions “Adonis Nude” and “Adonis clothed”.