Picks and Pans Review: Portraits—5,000 Years

updated 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Walker

With 301 examples of portraits from the last 5,000 years, this book vividly demonstrates their ability to show how little people seem to change over the centuries. The commentary by Walker, Director Emeritus of the National Gallery of Art, is on the dry side. But the sculpture, paintings and photographs (though there are only two of them—one of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the other by Georgia O'Keeffe—Walker not being enamored of photography as an art form) are provocative. They range from such familiar works as Van Gogh's Self-Portrait and the Tell el-Amarna bust of Queen Nefertiti to the strangely modern looking Woman Holding a Goblet from Mesopotamia of about 2700 B.C. This may be a coffee-table book, but it certainly won't just lie there; it is, after all, full of lives. (Abrams, $55)

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