Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Art, Piety and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500-1700

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Art, Piety and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500-1700

Article excerpt

Art, Piety and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500-1700. Edited by Virginia Chieffo Raguin. [Visual Culture in Early Modernity.] (Burlington, VT:Ashgate Publishing. 2010. Pp. xii, 226. $99.95. ISBN 978-0-754-66946-3.)

This collection of essays contributes to a growing literature on iconoclasm and censorship, but it foregrounds social forces such as historic preservation that deflect negative outcomes. One recurrent theme is the fate of Catholic visual images following the rise of Protestantism. However, it is refreshing that the emphasis is less on destruction than on the transvaluation of medieval cult objects as "art" and the invention of distinct Protestant imagery and ritual. The main thrust is contextual, with thick analysis of particular events and interactions affecting Christian images and spaces in Germany, England, France, Italy, Mexico, and the United States. The contents are as follows: "Introduction: Art and Religion: Then and Now" by Virginia Chief fo Raguin; "Salvaging Saints: The Rescue and Display of Relics in Munich during the Early Catholic Reformation" by Jeffrey Chipps Smith; Does Religion Matter? Adam Kraft's Eucharistie Tabernacle and Eobanus Hessus" by Corine Schlief;"- You Are What You Wear (and Use, and See):The Form of the Reform in England" by Raguin; "Repackaging the Past: The Survival, Preservation and Reinterpretation of the Medieval Windows of St. Mary's, Fairford, Gloucestershire" by Sarah Brown; "Preserving Antiquity in a Protestant City: The Maison Carrée in Sixteenth-Century Nîmes" by David Karmon; "Destruction or Preservation? The Meaning of Graffiti on Paintings in Religious Sites" by Véronique Plesch; and "Inquisitorial Practices Past and Present: Artistic Censorship, the Virgin Mary, and St. Anne" by Charlene Villaseñor Black.

Presumably in the interests of coherence and size, the fate of Jewish cultural production is not included (such as the continuing destruction of synagogues, as in Halber Stadt in 1669). Postmodern collections that have become a major genre of publication in recent decades do not claim to be collaborative histories. Their value lies in presenting good scholarship under a thematic rubric, orchestrated by an imaginative editor, as is the case here. …

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