A History of English Art in the Middle Ages

By O. Elfrida Saunders | Go to book overview

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

IN a book covering such a wide field as this, the problem of limitation has been a difficult one. Besides omitting architecture altogether, I have had to confine my attention to those branches of art which include figure-representation, and to leave out such purely decorative work as, for instance, the beautiful carved screens of Devonshire churches. It will probably also be felt that some of the minor but deservedly popular objects of church furniture, such as brasses, misericords, and fonts, have received scant justice. My excuse must be that information about these subjects is easily accessible, whereas the arts of wall-painting, sculpture, illumination, and embroidery have so far only been dealt with in large and expensive volumes or in the pages of the learned periodicals.

Another difficulty has been that, in a study which has only been taken up seriously within recent years, many points are still uncertain: even the attribution of certain works of art as between France and England presents almost insuperable difficulties. But it is hoped that, in cases where no definite conclusion can be reached, the student will be able, if he wishes, to form his own opinion on the subject with the help of the references at the end of the chapters. I can only hope that this book, whatever its imperfections, may encourage others to take up the fascinating study of the various branches of English Medieval Art and craftsmanship, in comparison both with each other and with contemporary phases of art in other countries.

I should like to express my obligation to Dr. Borenius both for his lectures on English medieval sculpture and wallpainting and for his interest and advice with regard to this book, which he has kindly read both in manuscript and proof. To Miss Mary Chamot I am indebted for a valuable suggestion

-xi-

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