During the Reformation, statues and carvings of saints, once commonly revered as aids to salvation, were condemned by increasing numbers of Protestants as fearsome idols. Moral doubts coupled with widespread acts of iconoclasm meant potential ruin for hundreds of German sculptors whose economic livelihood depended traditionally on church commissions. Focusing on how sculptors adjusted to this cultural tumult, Jeffrey Chipps Smith offers the first comprehensive examination of the artistic response to the challenge of the Reformation in German lands. In so doing he exposes the years leading up to the Counter-Reformation as a period of surprising artistic vibrance.Using paradigmatic case studies, Smith explores the reshaping of German sculpture. From the ashes of iconoclasm emerges a nascent Protestant art with dynamic new production centers, such as Dresden; an introspective Catholic renovatio occurs in which art presents a tangible means of reestablishing spiritual bonds with the pre-Reformation church. Smith reveals the diversity and ingenuity of a generation of sculptors whose productions range from magnificent tombs, intricate fountains, and other architectural carvings articulating princely and civic aspirations, to intimate carved portraits, bronze statuettes, and finely cut stone reliefs intended to grace a patrician home. The volume comprises a biographical catalog of forty-four of the most important sculptors from the period.
Arts-Photography, History-Criticism, Criticism,