"The world's best-selling art book," E. H. Gombrich's history combines more than 400 full-color plates and stunningly readable text.
Written specifically for newcomers, Gombrich highlights everything from cave paintings to mid-20th Century Century works, and covers architecture, painting, and sculpture. How do the different works relate to one another? Why did Impressionism cause such an uproar? You'll want to read just one more page: a perfect combination of overview and detail, written in lively (and refreshingly opinionated) prose. Originally written for high schoolers, it's also a great bedtime story selection for younger children. (Also recommended for History / Bible / Literature 100 and continued in 200.)