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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary!!!, 5 Dec. 2009
By 
Carlos Lara Coira (Ferrol, Galicia, España) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700 (National Gallery London) (Hardcover)
I am not an expert, just an art amateur.

The book (catalogue of one of the more interesting art exhibitions currently) surprises because the amazing quality and the touching or disturbing expressiveness of the selected works: Wooden sculptures and oil paintings from 1600-1700, period framed in the two spanish art golden centuries. It is about religiosness and mysticism as it was understood and expressed by spanish artists from this age; realism, devotion, poetry - in spite of certain cruelty and horrifyingness in some works.

The numerous colour plates are magnificent, with abundant enlarged astonishing details, for instance to show the fingernails made of horn in Gregorio Fernández'carving entitled Dead Christ. Just this aspect can make the book to be worth to any art lover, educated person or someone with interest in the art of the past.

The various scholar contributions will be very attractive to experts, but also to amateurs like me, since the contents of the texts are in my opinion attainable to the layman / laywoman, in spite of their seriousness.

I can only add that this book now in my art library is one of the more successfull purchases from this year 2009.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare book! A real bibliographic pearl!, 2 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700 (National Gallery London) (Hardcover)
This book is dedicated to Spanish religious sculpture and, to a minor degree, to Spanish painting of the 17th century. Absolutely marvellously explained and illustrated! Everybody who has interest in the Spanish art and culture (its spiritual side) should, in my view, have this book. Highly recommendable!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating world, 4 Jun. 2014
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This review is from: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700 (National Gallery London) (Hardcover)
Coming late to Spanish art I am really sorry to have missed this exhibition when it was in London. The very characteristic and often brutally realistic religious art of the so called 'Golden Age' may not be for everyone, but many who did visit the exhibition found themselves unexpectedly drawn into its aura. A sense of this discovery can be obtained from the accompanying DVD (available separately) and having seen that I am pleased to have now bought the book which makes this unusual worldview available in greater depth.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the art of devotion opened Anglo-Saxon eyes, 24 Jun. 2011
By 
C. Howse "Christopher Howse" (England and Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700 (National Gallery London) (Hardcover)
To one side of the sacristy in Toledo stands a glass case. It contains a carved image that Richard Ford told readers of his Handbook to Spain in 1845 to `inquire particularly for': a carved and painted wooden statue 3 foot high of St Francis of Assisi, `a masterpiece of cadaverous ecstatic sentiment' in Ford's words.
It is by Pedro de Mena, a master of polychromatic realism. The habit of the saint is painted with fine broken striations of brown and white to render its coarse woollen surface. A tear at the breast reveals one of the stigmata that St Francis bore. His face is pale, in the suspended animation of ecstasy, the lips parted to show teeth (made of ivory), the eyes (fitted as glass `cups' behind the sockets) focused upwards to an unseen world. Such statues, frequently to be found in the sacristies of Spanish cathedrals, have, for generations together, escaped the admiration of artistically discerning tourists.
For English people with an eye on artistic currents, all that changed with an exhibition curated by Xavier Bray at the National Gallery, London, in 2009, in which Pedro de Mena's St Francis was one of the exhibits. The next year it went to Washington.
`Unless you can enter into the imaginations of those who first saw these works and accept the absolute reality for them of the suffering or ecstasy they show, you will miss half their power,' wrote the art critic Richard Dorment. `This isn't just a goodshow - it is one of the best I've ever seen at the National Gallery.'
This book shows why the exhibition made such an impact.
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The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600-1700 (National Gallery London)
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