Abstract

In 1962, H.N. Abrams published History of Art by H.W. and D.J. Janson, which soon became, and remained for more than twenty years, the art history survey in the United States. In 1986, several years after H.W. Janson's death, the third edition of the survey appeared with his name on the title page as well as that of his art historian son, Anthony, as reviser and editor; Anthony would be associated with the survey through the sixth revised edition of 2004. Several years later, the so-called seventh edition appeared, which is titled and is being marketed as Janson's History of Art: The Western Tradition, though no Janson name appears on the title page. Rather, six new art historians are listed as authors. According to Dr Jeffrey Weidman, the publication of this so-called seventh edition is an event to be mourned, not celebrated. In order to substantiate his claim, Dr Weidman reviews in detail the lineage of English-language art history surveys in America, and the Jansons' text therein; discusses in detail the various reviews of the Jansons' and other survey texts that have appeared since 1976, as well as related recent print and online review essays; and thoroughly reviews this seventh edition. Even with its many faults and shortcomings, this recent edition is a good book. But the publishers' decision to align it with and market it as the most recent edition of Janson not only does a disservice to the Jansons but undercuts and devalues the considerable work of the six authors whose book this really is. The publisher should give them credit for it, rather than obfuscating the reality of the book's contents by targeting a market that has been built up since the early 1960s. Dr Weidman's essay will be of immeasurable value to scholars, publishers, and historians of the book – among others – interested in the detailed chronicling of the long publication history of a renowned text.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1166
Print ISSN
1198-9742
Pages
pp. 85-107
Launched on MUSE
2007-02-12
Open Access
No
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