Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church Art and Architecture in the Low Countries before 1566

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Church Art and Architecture in the Low Countries before 1566

Article excerpt

Church Art and Architecture in the Low Countries before 1566. By Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs. [Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, Vol. XXXVII.] (Kirksville, Missouri: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers. 1997. Pp. xii, 244. $65.00.)

Bangs's book aims to recreate what the churches in the Low Countries looked like before they were stripped of their art during the Reformation. His book is designed to counter what Bangs takes to be common misconceptions that Dutch churches were always "Calvinistically empty" and that virtually no art survived the iconoclastic riots of 1566. To this end, after a brief historical account of the 1566 riots, Bangs devotes the bulk of his book to studying the art objects and furniture found in Netherlandish churches during the preReformation period. The broad variety of objects includes baptismal fonts, pulpits, choir screens, choir stalls, organ cases, altarpieces, tabernacles, paintings, stained glass, statues, tombs, textiles, and Mass implements; a closing section addresses Gothic and Renaissance architecture of the Lowlands. By and large, each chapter focuses on a single type of church furniture. After briefly assessing how the art form under consideration functioned within Catholic practice, and the attitude of the Reformers toward such works, Bangs provides a chronologically organized, descriptive survey of the style and iconography of the main surviving works. Among the better-known of these works are Reinier of Huy's baptismal font in Liege, Jacques Dubroeucq's choir screen at Mons, Cornelis Florisz. de Vriendt's tabernacle in Zoutleeuw, Cornelis Engebrechtsz' Crucifixion triptych, and Jan Borreman's St. George altarpiece.

The book's utility lies in its offering the only complete survey of Catholic church furnishings in Dutch churches. Moreover, the analysis brings out a number of interesting stylistic issues, documenting not only the shift from Gothic to Renaissance styles, but also the combination of the two styles within single works of art (as seen, for example, in the Leiden pulpit). …

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