Raphael, Madonna del Granduca, 1505

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich


The Story of Art is one of the most famous and popular books on art, in which Sir Ernst Gombrich combines knowledge and wisdom with a gift for communicating his love of the subject. This edition presents the text in a pocket format which combines a pleasure to read and a pleasure to handle.

Gombrich’s writing style is simple and accessible, and we wanted the design to reflect those qualities while giving the book a character that was distinct and quietly confident. The pocket-size edition is wrapped in onion-skin paper, like a parcel, similar to Éditions Gallimard tomes found in Parisian bookshops. The layout allows the text to flow smoothly, printed in black on off-white bible paper. The plate section follows, printed on coated art paper. Two ribbon markers, one for each section, enable easy referencing. The colour of the cover is subtle aqua, and the ribbons match.

While Gombrich published The Story of Art in 1950, the idea for the book germinated in the 1930s when he came to London. It felt appropriate to use Joanna, a typeface designed by the British typographer Eric Gill. Large numerals are used in the chapter openers to give it a contemporary feel. Those are typeset in TYP 1451 by Nico Schweizer. In another reference to the graphic language of the 1930s, black geometric shapes on the jacket and the inside of the book divide the visual space into light and dark areas.

Publisher: Phaidon