The Cave of Altamira

The Cave of Altamira

Book - 1999
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Today the cave of Altamira in northern Spain, with its famous ceiling decorated with magnificent painted figures of bison, horses, deer, and wild cattle, is acknowledged as one of the great monuments of prehistoric art.It seems surprising, therefore, that when the cave was first discovered in 1879 and presented to the scholarly world, it was greeted with scepticism ranging from mild caution to outright contempt. The reasons for this reaction were many. The discoverer of the cave, Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, was not an academic prehistorian. Moreover, everything about Altamira seemed excessive: its great antiquity, its vast size, the astonishing quality of its paintings. Nothing even remotely like it had been seen before.Scholars in the late nineteenth century believed that Paleolithic people were capable of little more than instinctive action. However, the drawings, engravings, and especially the paintings in the Polychrome Chamber at Altamira were clearly the work of artists whose mastery of their media and artistic sensibilities rivaled those of the great European masters. If the art at Altamira was genuine, theories accepted by the most distinguished authorities on prehistoric art would have to be discarded. Not surprisingly, there was considerable resistance to accepting the authenticity of the paintings. The result was that one of the greatest works of Paleolithic art was virtually ignored for more than twenty years.As time went on, however, opinions began to change. New discoveries during the 1890s and early in the twentieth century brought to light a wealth of Paleolithic artifacts and paintings that looked strikingly like the art at Altamira. By 1905 the paintings inthe cave were finally accepted as what they are: some of the finest and most important surviving works of prehistoric art.This beautiful book presents a fresh look at the cave at Altamira in light of the many exciting disco
Publisher: New York : Harry Abrams, 1999, c1998
ISBN: 9780810919891
Characteristics: 180 p. : col. ill. ; 31 cm


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