Strange Beauty: German Paintings at the National Gallery by Caroline Bugler
This book of highlights from the National Gallery's collection of German art presents masterpieces by some of the world's favourite Renaissance artists - Hans Holbein, Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach and Adam Elsheimer - as well as wonderful paintings by later generations of artists including Caspar David Friedrich and Adolph Menzel. Spanning a wide variety of styles, their works share an extraordinary originality, inventiveness and technical mastery. Sitting at the heart of Europe, Germany has always been a melting pot for ideas from surrounding countries - the Netherlands, France, Italy, Bohemia, Poland and England. While individual cities developed into regional centres with their own artistic specialities, German painters also travelled widely. The disparate influences they absorbed fed into images that were sometimes classically beautiful, sometimes astonishingly realistic and sometimes disturbingly dark. The paintings on these pages range from devotional works and allegories to minutely observed studies of nature and characterful portraits, including Holbein's imposing and amazingly lifelike portrayal of two close friends, The Ambassadors.