19 DECEMBER 1896, Page 25

Architecture in Italy from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century.

By Raffaele Cattaneo. (Fisher Unwin.)—The usual theory is that art in Italy declined gradually after the sixth century, and became practically extinct in the tenth, afterwards a new life suddenly springing up in the eleventh century. The aim of this book is to prove by existing monuments that this view is in- correct, the author seeking to show that after the low ebb of the sixth century bad been reached a reaction set in at once. This view of the matter is more reasonable than to suppose that after the year 1000 a new style, of which the Romanic and Lombardic are specimens, suddenly came into being. If the dates assigned to the details of architecture in the book before us are accurate— and there seems no reason to doubt them—a good case has been made out. A gradual rise not only in freedom of design but in power of execution can be traced in the monuments, beginning with the seventh century and reaching the splendid level of the carvings at Torcello in the ninth. The illustrations of this well. printed volume are of great interest to all caring for decorative art. The wealth of patterns shown is marvellous. Those who want designs to carve in wood or stone will find this book a mine of good examples.