The BBC’s reboot of Civilisations earlier this year sent people back to Kenneth Clark’s original 1969 television series for a tussle over its moral flaws. Two decades before Clark, someone else sat down with their postcards to arrange Western art into an ambitious story. That was Ernst Gombrich, the man Clark set out to eclipse as the nation’s favourite art historian. Like a real eclipse, it didn’t last. Gombrich’s 1950 The Story of Art has sold more copies than any other art book, and it has worn better than Clark’s grand story, even though it is, in theory, more antique.
Archive on 4: The Story of E H Gombrich (Radio 4, Saturday) was presented by his granddaughter and literary executor, Leonie...
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