Believing and Seeing: The Art of Gothic Cathedrals

Overview

Expanding the boundaries of the Gothic survey, Recht goes beyond the great cathedrals of France to also explore key religious buildings throughout Northern Europe, Italy, and Spain, revealing how their grand designs supported a profusion of images that made visible the signs of scripture. Metalworkers, for example, fashioned intricate monstrances and reliquaries for the presentation of sacred articles, and technical advances in stained glass production allowed for more expressive renderings of holy objects. ...
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Overview

Expanding the boundaries of the Gothic survey, Recht goes beyond the great cathedrals of France to also explore key religious buildings throughout Northern Europe, Italy, and Spain, revealing how their grand designs supported a profusion of images that made visible the signs of scripture. Metalworkers, for example, fashioned intricate monstrances and reliquaries for the presentation of sacred articles, and technical advances in stained glass production allowed for more expressive renderings of holy objects. Sculptors, meanwhile, created increasingly naturalistic works, and painters used multihued palettes to enhance their subjects' lifelike qualities. Reimagining these works as a link between devotional practices in the late Middle Ages and contemporaneous theories that imbued vision with supreme importance, Recht provides students and scholars with a new and powerful lens through which to view Gothic-art and architecture.
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Editorial Reviews

Le Monde
“A personal and new synthesis, bringing together a deep knowledge of historiography and a strong theoretical reflection based on empirical scholarship.”
L'Histoire
"A masterly, and very personal, analysis of gothic art."-L'Histoire on the French edition
L'Express
“This interpretation of gothic art, which deals not only with architecture, but also with spirituality and theology, is extraordinarily rich.”
on the French edition - Art Bulletin
“Recht seeks to understand the dual evolution of changing theological positions—including such factors as private devotion and even religious taste—and modes of representation. Central to his idea is that the notions of seeing, in theological and also lay understandings, coincided with changes in representation; that ‘believing and seeing,’ as the title declares, are part of the same cultural system and, moreover, contingent on one another for the success of representation. . . . Recht’s book is especially at its most engaging when it opens up the treatment of images to suggest that ways of seeing, believing, and making constitute all together ‘l’art des cathedrales.’”
Times Higher Education
An ambitious, broad-ranging study of the role and function of the image within the medieval church. Roland Recht, here in a translation by Mary Whitehall, brings together two subjects that are usually studied separately, architecture and sacred images, and he proposes that the latter cannot be understood or experienced without the former, in both spatial and liturgical terms. . . . Recht unfolds his analysis of the complex and multiple functions of medieval church sculpture within the many-sided prism of ambient space, ritual and liturgy and doctrine, enabling viewers who inhabit a different visual and spiritual world to recreate some part of the role of the image for the medieval viewer. . . .

This volume is of fundamental importance to the study of medieval art, and should become part of the intellectual apparatus of all who concern themselves with the religious image.

— Caroline Bruzelius

Choice

"Readers will be rewarded by Recht's brilliant analysis of Gothic architectural polychromy, stained glass, and stone sculpture, and should find the unity of Recht's 'vision' of the Gothic ultimately convincing."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review
An intriguing study of Gothic accompanied by investigation of many critical questions in the discipline, written by an observant and thoughtful scholar.

— Charlotte A. Stanford

First Things
What has often been reduced to pious simplicity . . . is now rediscovered as vibrant, sophisticated, and flexibly intellectual. Whatever viewpoint one brings to Gothic architecture, one's understanding of medieval art will be challenged and enhanced by Recht's scholarly, measured panorama.

— Matthew Alderman

L'Histoire on the French edition
“A masterly, and very personal, analysis of gothic art.”
Times Higher Education - Caroline Bruzelius
"An ambitious, broad-ranging study of the role and function of the image within the medieval church. Roland Recht, here in a translation by Mary Whitehall, brings together two subjects that are usually studied separately, architecture and sacred images, and he proposes that the latter cannot be understood or experienced without the former, in both spatial and liturgical terms. . . . Recht unfolds his analysis of the complex and multiple functions of medieval church sculpture within the many-sided prism of ambient space, ritual and liturgy and doctrine, enabling viewers who inhabit a different visual and spiritual world to recreate some part of the role of the image for the medieval viewer. . . .
This volume is of fundamental importance to the study of medieval art, and should become part of the intellectual apparatus of all who concern themselves with the religious image."
Bryn Mawr Classical Review - Charlotte A. Stanford
"An intriguing study of Gothic accompanied by investigation of many critical questions in the discipline, written by an observant and thoughtful scholar."
First Things - Matthew Alderman
"What has often been reduced to pious simplicity . . . is now rediscovered as vibrant, sophisticated, and flexibly intellectual. Whatever viewpoint one brings to Gothic architecture, one's understanding of medieval art will be challenged and enhanced by Recht's scholarly, measured panorama."
Choice
"Readers will be rewarded by Recht's brilliant analysis of Gothic architectural polychromy, stained glass, and stone sculpture, and should find the unity of Recht's 'vision' of the Gothic ultimately convincing."
Choice
"Readers will be rewarded by Recht''s brilliant analysis of Gothic architectural polychromy, stained glass, and stone sculpture, and should find the unity of Recht''s ''vision'' of the Gothic ultimately convincing."
Art Bulletin
"Recht seeks to understand the dual evolution of changing theological positions-including such factors as private devotion and even religious taste-and modes of representation. Central to his idea is that the notions of seeing, in theological and also lay understandings, coincided with changes in representation; that 'believing and seeing,' as the title declares, are part of the same cultural system and, moreover, contingent on one another for the success of representation. . . . Recht's book is especially at its most engaging when it opens up the treatment of images to suggest that ways of seeing, believing, and making constitute all together 'l'art des cathedrales.'"-Art Bulletin, on the French edition
Times Higher Education
"An ambitious, broad-ranging study of the role and function of the image within the medieval church. Roland Recht, here in a translation by Mary Whitehall, brings together two subjects that are usually studied separately, architecture and sacred images, and he proposes that the latter cannot be understood or experienced without the former, in both spatial and liturgical terms. . . . Recht unfolds his analysis of the complex and multiple functions of medieval church sculpture within the many-sided prism of ambient space, ritual and liturgy and doctrine, enabling viewers who inhabit a different visual and spiritual world to recreate some part of the role of the image for the medieval viewer. . . .
This volume is of fundamental importance to the study of medieval art, and should become part of the intellectual apparatus of all who concern themselves with the religious image."-Caroline Bruzelius, Times Higher Education

— Caroline Bruzelius

Le Monde
"A personal and new synthesis, bringing together a deep knowledge of historiography and a strong theoretical reflection based on empirical scholarship."
L'Express
"This interpretation of gothic art, which deals not only with architecture, but also with spirituality and theology, is extraordinarily rich."-L''Express
First Things
"What has often been reduced to pious simplicity . . . is now rediscovered as vibrant, sophisticated, and flexibly intellectual. Whatever viewpoint one brings to Gothic architecture, one''s understanding of medieval art will be challenged and enhanced by Recht''s scholarly, measured panorama."-Matthew Alderman, First Things

— Matthew Alderman

Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"An intriguing study of Gothic accompanied by investigation of many critical questions in the discipline, written by an observant and thoughtful scholar."-Charlotte A. Stanford, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

— Charlotte A. Stanford

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226706061
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/15/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Roland Recht is professor of art history at the University of Strasbourg. Mary Whittall (1937-2005) translated many books from French and German, including several for the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction 1

Pt. I From Romanticized Mechanics to the Cathedral of Light

1 Gothic Architecture: Technology and Symbolism 9

The Gothic System,: "Romanticized Mechanics"?

Symbolical Interpretations and Two World Wars

2 Ornament, Style, and Space 31

The First and Second Viennese Schools

August Schmarsow: Art as a System

The Question of Style, or, The Search for Unity

Space and the Picture as Plane

Pt. II An Introduction to the Art of Cathedrals

3 The Seen and the Unseen 69

Seeing the Host: St. Francis and the Testimony of One's Own Eyes

Seeing Mysteries

The Physics and Metaphysics of Seeing

4 Architecture and the "Connoisseurs" 108

Architectural Relics and Innovations

The Enhancement of the Visual

Architectural Iconology and the Architect's Role

Chartres and Bourges: "Classical" or "Gothic"?

The French Model: Canterbury, Cologne, and Prague

Architecture, Color, and Glass

5 The Carved Image and Its Functions 195

The Devotional Image

The Carved Image and the Liturgy

The Cathedral as a Theater of Memory

Expression, Color, and Dress

6 Models, Transmission of Forms and Types, and Working Methods 263

A New Model: The Royal Portrait

The Transmission of Forms and Types

Working Methods

The Display and Sale of Art

Conclusion 307

Notes 321

Bibliography 335

Suggested Reading 345

Index of Persons 361

Index of Places 371

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