Leading an idiosyncratic tour through the history of fine and decorative art, Sayre invites young readers to pause before 50 exemplars while he fills in historical background and symbolic significance. He presents the works in chronological order, beginning with the 24,000-year-old Woman from Brassempouy
, a bit of mammoth ivory carved into the earliest known representation of a human face, and ending with Magritte's 1964 Son of Man.
In between, he offers a multicultural mix that ranges from such usual suspects as the Bayeux Tapestry and Michelangelo's David to a Mogul miniature, Easter Island heads, a Moche pitcher, a Mandan hide robe, and several ancient Chinese paintings. With a few exceptions, the photos are merely adequate; some are actually details of larger works, and several are reduced to less than quarter-page size—far too small to pick out details. Sayre also loads his gallery with Impressionists, but save for one still life from 1611, skips over the 17th- and 18th-century European scenes. Still, his lively commentary adds some thought-provoking insight, and the art itself will exert its pull on viewers. (index) (Nonfiction. 10-12)Read full book review >