- Following the style of the most famous book of Renaissance art history, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari, this is one of the most comprehensive books of British art history covering the early period to the early nineteenth century.
- Alain Cunningham compiled this monumental work with the support of his contemporaries, such as John Gibson Lockhart, the editor of Quarterly Review and Robert Southey. It took several years to complete.
- The book selected forty-seven British artists; not only famous painters and architects like William Hogarth, William Blake, Joshua Reynolds, and Inigo Jones, but also some relatively forgotten figures from the Elizabethan period up to the nineteenth century.
- Contains detailed bibliographic information, together with both historical and aesthetic background of the times in which the artists flourished.
- An essential addition to the holdings of all art libraries (and universities with art courses) which do not hold the original book.