If various reports are to be believed, the recession is drawing to a close. Even so, money is tight, gifts are precious and travel is dear. That might mean a lot of the things, but to me it means that gorgeous, elegant and rich books about wonderful places are going to be among the top holiday time gifts this year. How could they not be? Even an expensive book is a tiny fraction of the cost of a trip… and it can last ever so much longer.
Two great gift giving candidates come to us this season from H.F. Ullman. Florence: Art and Architecture and Venice: The Golden Centuries are both massive, impressive, filled with wonderful information and both books are relative bargains: pound for pound, these two might just be the best book bargains out there!
Neither of these books are contemporary travel guides which, in many ways, make them much better gifts. The information contained herein is not time sensitive or dependent. These are art books and, considering the topic at hand, both deal with the artistic history of the city under discussion. Noted scholars and historians contribute chapters to do with their own areas of expertise, while hundreds of images in each book complete the full illustration of two of the most artistically important cities in history. ◊
David Middleton is art director and art and culture editor of January Magazine.