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book reviews701 proaches and placing Scandinavian developments in a larger European context, and an extensive bibUography that would not omit older, classic studies. Unfortunately , the volume under review does not fit the bUl. Susan Rosa The University ofChicago German Sculpture of the Later Renaissance, c. 1520-1580:Art in an Age of Uncertainty. By Jeffrey Chipps Smith. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1994. Pp. xxi, 524. $65.00.) This book offers the reader a vast amount ofinformation concerning the production of sculpture in Germany during the sixteenth century. It may be regarded both as an introduction to the subject and as a reference work, one which can be consulted, say, to determine 'what sculptor was responsible for the execution of a particular monument, or to answer more complex questions as to the types of subject matter favored by a certain patron. There is an encyclopedic quaUty to the work, for the author has set himself the task of synthesizing what art historians have so far had to say about the material he treats. This is no mean achievement, since the literature to date is almost exclusively in German. The result is a useful compendium, a source book to which one can turn for succinct accounts of the sculpture produced in a large geographical area over a period of almost a century. It is perhaps because of the scope of this work, as weU as Smith's talent for synthesis, that one does not find new and chaUenging interpretations either of individual sculptures or about the way in which this medium intersected with the cultural Ufe ofthe period.Whatever gestures are made toward a broader understanding ofthe work, its significance for its social context, tend to take place in the opening chapters. The first chapter, for example, contains a very useful account of the devotional status and function of sculpture in the years leading up to the Reformation. Smith goes over the weU-known theological arguments which were used either to support or criticize the reUgious use of images, as weU as a history of iconoclasm. However, he also points to other forms of cultural signification affecting the production and use of sculpture. He provides a very useful and original account of the competition that took place between different cities when, in the closing years of the fifteenth century, they decided to outdo each other by buUding larger and more imposing monuments to their patron saints. In Chapter 3, he deploys the useful heuristic tool of contrasting the different fates of sculptors working in CathoUc and Lutheran areas of Germany .Among the interesting conclusions is the feet that sculptors often worked for both sides ofthe dogmatic schism and even traveled to different parts ofthe country, working for Catholic and Lutheran patrons alike. In other words, the sculptors' own religious convictions,which are often documented,do not seem to have interfered with their professional careers. 702book reviews Smith's concern,however,Ues principaUy in the task ofrecording what sculpture was made and who made it. This means that the text often reads as a Ust of fects in which one commission foUows another. Such is the strain placed on the narrative structure that it often stumbles under the burden. The interpretive framework is not strong enough to handle the amount of material it is made to bear. In this, it tends to substitute empirical information for interpretation as a way of ensuring the "transparency" and accessibUity of the historical record. The facts, it is imphed, are just there and can speak for themselves without too much intervention on the part of the historian. Smith, however, has interesting points to make along the way. He brings out quite effectively the archaizing and nostalgic quaUty of some of the sculpture commissioned to replace works destroyed during the iconoclasms of the 1520's, describing it as an attempt to claim a continuity between CathoUc present and past, a continuity that had only temporarily been broken by the events of the Reformation. Rather than incorporate aU forms of sculpture into his historical narrative, he has treated variously sculptural genres separately, as ifthey had histories oftheir own. There are chapters on epitaphs and simple tombs, on commemorative series...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 701-702
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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