If you can't tell a Van Eyck from a Van Gogh and aren't sure whether Canaletto is an artist or a pastry, these four volumes (with more due to be published later) can be a welcome education. Moderately priced, they feature liberal use of color plates and strongly organized texts, which explain the background, technique, and works of each painter.
The books are written by different European art historians, and accordingly read with varying degrees of clarity. The volume on Canaletto, for instance, is somewhat harder to understand than the others.
But overall they are a good choice for someone who wants t take along a little more in-depth knowledge on his next trip to the local museum.