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Art and Illusion

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Art and Illusion
First edition
AuthorErnst Gombrich
GenreArt history
PublisherPantheon Books (Bollingen series)
Publication date
Publication placeUnited States
Media typePrint

Art and Illusion, A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, is a 1960 book of art theory and history by Ernst Gombrich, derived from the 1956 A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts. The book had a wide impact in art history,[1] but also in history (e.g. Carlo Ginzburg, who called it "splendid"[2]), aesthetics (e.g. Nelson Goodman's Languages of Art[3]), semiotics (Umberto Eco's Theory of Semiotics[4]), and music psychology (Robert O. Gjerdingen's schema theory of Galant style music).

In Art and Illusion, Gombrich argues for the importance of "schemata" in analyzing works of art: he claims that artists can only learn to represent the external world by learning from previous artists, so representation is always done using stereotyped figures and methods.


  1. ^ Shone, Richard and Stonard, John-Paul, eds. The Books That Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss, chapter 9. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.
  2. ^ Ginzburg, Carlo. "From Aby Warburg to E.H. Gombrich." In Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, 47. Baltimore: JHU Press, 1989.
  3. ^ N. Goodman: Languages of Art, Indianapolis and Cambridge, 1976.
  4. ^ U. Eco: Theory of Semiotics, Bloomington, 1976, pp.204–05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Woodfield, Richard. Gombrich on Art and Psychology. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1996. 271 pp. ISBN 0-7190-4769-2.
  • Trapp, J.B. E.H. Gombrich: A Bibliography. London, Phaidon 2000. ISBN 978-0-7148-3981-3
  • Gombrich, E.H.J. & Eribon, D. Conversations on Art and Science. New York: Abrams 1993 (also published as: A Lifelong Interest.)
  • Onians J. (ed.). Sight & Insight. Essays in honour of E.H. Gombrich. London: Phaidon 1994
  • McGrath, Elizabeth.‘E. H. Gombrich’, Burlington Magazine, 144 (2002), 111–12
  • Carlo Ginzburg, ‘From Aby Warburg to E.H. Gombrich: A Problem of Method’, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, John and Anne C. Tedeschi, trans, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986, 17–59
  • Shone, Richard and Stonard, John-Paul, eds. The Books That Shaped Art History: From Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.
  • Tononi, Fabio, “Ernst Gombrich and the Concept of ‘Ill-Defined Area’: Perception and Filling-In”, Journal of Art Historiography, 29: 2 (2023), pp. 1–27.

External links[edit]