Kenneth Clark's sweeping narrative looks at how Western Europe evolved in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire, to produce the ideas, books, buildings, works of art and great individuals that make up our civilisation. The author takes us from Iona in the ninth century to France in the twelfth, from Florence to Urbino, from Germany to Rome, England, Holland and America. Against these historical backgrounds he sketches an extraordinary cast of characters -- the men and women who gave new energy to civilisation and expanded our understanding of the world and of ourselves. He also highlights the works of genius they produced -- in architecture, sculpture and painting, in philosophy, poetry and music, and in science and engineering, from Raphael's School of Athens to the bridges of Brunel.
Kenneth Clark was born in 1903 and was educated at the University of Oxford. Aged 30, he was appointed Director of the National Gallery - he remained there until 1945. He has been Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, Chairman of the Arts Council and Chairman of the Independent Television Authority. He was knighted in 1938 and made a Life Peer in 1969. In 1976 he was awarded the Order of Merit. He is widely known for his television programmes on art, as well as for his writing.