27 APRIL 1956, Page 34

Chinese Art

VALUABLE though the Pelican histories of art certainly are, there might, perhaps, be a reconsideration of their form and pattern. The Art and Architecture of China, by Laurence Sickman and Alexander Soper (Penguin Books, 45s.), shows the defects along with the merits. There is too much text, and too much is printed upon each page, especially for books which are so expensive. The long lines are not easy for the eye to read. There is too much miscel- laneous history. The photographs are all at the end, and thus do not really illuminate the text. There is too much detail for the general reader, and for the scholar too little indication of what is new. These are faults not peculiar to the present book, which is certainly meritor- ious, well considered, and measured in judge- ment. One of its special values is the use made of the recent work of Japanese archeologists. There is still room for a major investigation of the development of Chinese architecture, and for its comparatively small range of development. This book, though giving help- ful photographs, does not pretend to fill this need. Porcelain and the applied arts are not included in the survey, except incidentally.