On Beauty, By Umberto Eco

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The Independent Culture

As a picture book, this "history of a Western idea" would make a great Christmas present.

Starting with a Grecian female baring her breast in the second century BC and ending with Kate Moss doing the same for Herb Ritts, it is packed with the most glorious images: the anonymous portrait of two aristocratic sisters nipple-tweaking that draws crowds in the Louvre; Correggio's eerie vision of goddess Io; Botticelli's paean to blondeness in Allegory of Spring; the irresistible Louise Brooks.

Unfortunately, the text by the Piedmontese polymath suffers from opaqueness ("the question was how to re-table the debate about the Classical antitheses of thought...") but who needs commentary with pictures like these?