This book is so conspicuosly intelligent, and its exercises in criticism so involving, that it is a great pleasure to read. Baxandall begins by developing a scheme for the explanation of concrete historical objects in general.
He takes the Forth bridge in Scotland. Baxandall, more than it makes it beautiful, he shows you that it really is beautiful. But wait, there's more. He takes Picasso's Kahweiler and shows it to you as beautiful, and damn well you believe it.
Baxandall shows us how to interpret art.
But he claims modesty: he is a historian, he says, and is only offering one method of many to think about pictures. I think this is the only place where he has gone wrong. After going through his method of understanding art, you will know there are no others. All the other ones are wrong. Baxandall is right.
If you want to be someone who talks about art intelligently, buy this book and you will be able to talk of art in the only way you should