978-0-300-05167-4 / 9780300051674

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About the book:

Columbus planned and carried out his "Enterprise of the Indies" during an age of discovery and creation - a period of astonishing cultural activity not only in Europe but throughout the world. Five hundred years later an exhibition and book celebrate this crucial turning point in civilization by examining the art and history of the principal cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean, the Far East, and the Americas. The book begins by looking at the Mediterranean world as the new seaborne empires were being formed, surveying the visual arts and principal intellectual and spiritual currents in major political centres from Portugal to Turkey. Next it takes the reader on Columbus's proposed route cast to the lands of Cathay, presenting essays about and ilustrations of paintings, sculpture, calligraphy, and decorative art that document the venerable civilizations of the Far East. Finally it surveys the great empires and chiefdoms of the Americas that the Europeans suddenly and unexpectedly encountered, focusing on major works of Aztec sculpture, textiles from the Inca Empire, works in gold from Colombia and Costa Rica, and objects from the pre-Columbian cultures of North America. The story of this remarkable age is told by an international team of art historians, historians, and anthropologists, whose essays are complemented by over 600 superb paintings, sculptures, drawings, decorative objects, and maps and scientific instruments - all reproduced in colour and with full commentary. The book will serve as the catalogue for a major quincentenary exhibition to be held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, from October 12, 1991 to January 12, 1992.

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