Art Theory, Criticism & History Books

Great art goes beyond the surface of the canvas. Understanding the story behind artistic movements and the context that helped shape them can allow you to develop a deeper appreciation of paintings. 

At the National Gallery Shop, we stock a broad selection of art history criticism and theory books


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Art criticism and art theory are two intertwined areas of study that ultimately aim to establish a deeper understanding of a painting. By developing a richer understanding of the school of thought around the history of art and art theory, it is possible to look at iconic paintings in new ways. 

One of the best approaches to this is through art theory books, and to read criticism of art that can present new ideas and insights.  

With some of the best art theory books available from the National Gallery Shop, our range offers an excellent way to find art criticism books and art history books regardless of whether you are a complete beginner looking to develop a foundation of knowledge in this area, or an experienced scholar keen to add to your art book collection. 

Our selection includes books on contextual studies in art, as well as books covering academic lectures at the National Gallery, such as the Linbury Lecture series. 

There are also books available focusing on specific artists, including Winslow Homer, Turner and Van Gogh, as well as books that explore certain elements of artistry, with our ‘A Closer Look’ series of books covering Still Life, Colour, Saints, Faces and the Conservation of Paintings.  

Be sure to browse through the full selection of art history books, art theory books and art criticism books we have available at the National Gallery Shop and find an exciting read.  



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