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Marvelous to Behold Review by Audrey Tolle

Jennifer Courtney and Courtney Sanford
Classical Conversations MultiMedia
255 Air Tool Dr
Southern Pines, NC 28387

We have been a part of a Classical Conversations community for over eight years and I have such an appreciation for their beautifully designed program materials. I was eager to get my hands-on Classical Conversations MultiMedia’s newest release of Marvelous to Behold by Jennifer Courtney and Courtney Sanford.

Marvelous to Behold is a book about art and how to study it with a classical approach. It has beautiful, full color pages and delves into the study of the works of 12 artists, including well-known ones like Monet and Da Vinci, but also lesser known artists like Jan van Eyck and Thomas Cole. It retails for $29.99.

Each section studies the work of an artist and has a full page in full color of the portrait. Each painting studied includes a color wheel showing the palette of colors and hues that were chosen for the work. It also breaks down the painting to show the basic shape structure used in the piece to see the basic form. In includes some unique information about each artist, including some letters between artist Charles Willson Peale and Benjamin Franklin.

What is unique about this book, thatdiffers from any other book of art that I have ever seen, is the way it integrates the Five Common Topics to delve deeper into thinking and discussing the artist’s work by using Definition, Comparison, Relationship, Circumstance, and Authority. These topics are a way of asking questions that help us find out more information such as what was going on in history, literature, politics, music, etc., and did it influence the artist? If you are unfamiliar with the Five Common Topics, fear not, there is an excellent introduction of it included in the introduction. The book offers questions in each section to get the juices flowing about the painting. This really is what makes this a classical study of art, and not just another art book. Seeing beyond just the painting on the page but seeing it “deeper” and how it is multifaceted.

Overall, I have never seen an art resource like this book. It is so well done and prompted me to look deeper into the art around me. I believe that it is a wonderful resource for studying art whether you are in Classical Conversations or not. Someday when my homeschooling journey ends and I am clearing out homeschool curriculum from my shelves, this book will remain.

Product review by Audrey Tolle, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2019