Clues to the meaning of many of the masterpieces of art history lie in a rich system of symbols, themes and motifs that often elude modern museum-goers. The intimate knowledge of Greek and Roman mythology, folklore and Christian theology that was so vivid in the minds of viewers during the Renaissance is rarely part of the preparation of the contemporary viewer brings to a painter. This illuminating, anecdotal, portable book - with 1,000 gorgeous colour illustrations - helps to fill in these gaps by decoding the imagery of more than 150 of the most influential and admired artworks of all time. Covering the works of the Italian, Dutch, German and Spanish Old Masters, from 1350 to 1750 - paintings by such artists as Giotto, Botticelli, El Greco, Bruegel, Holbein, Rubens and Vermeer, all held in public collections - How to Read a Painting not only helps the viewer to understand the significant details of a picture but also explains the relationship with similar imagery in other works. The guide to Old Master paintings that every art lover has always wanted, this indispensable museum companion will open the reader to a whole new experience of Western art's most praised and visited paintings.