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Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century (Dover Fine Art, History of Art) Paperback – 28 Mar 2003

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From the Back Cover

The art in medieval cathedrals, in addition to its profound aesthetic appeal, told unlettered churchgoers a series of morality tales. From divine creation to the lives of the saints, the stone sculpture and stained glass windows provided dramatic illustrations of the key elements of Christian doctrine. Unfortunately, the true meaning of these religious artworks was gradually obscured by time. In 1913, however, this brilliant study appeared, clarifying and illuminating the original ideas and concepts behind the sacred art of the Middle Ages. The book was hailed by Bernard Berenson as "the most illuminating, the most informing and the most penetrating book on the subject."
Focusing on the 13th century as the apotheosis of the medieval style, Male, a noted art historian, explains that the decorative features of French cathedrals served as testimonials of religious faith. His topics include medieval iconography, bestiaries, illustrated calendars, representations of the virtues and vices, symbolic windows, saints, the gospels, secular history, and many other aspects of medieval religious art. This groundbreaking work, enhanced with 190 illustrations that buttress the points made in the text, remains unsurpassed in its style and brilliant synthesis of many disparate elements of the topic."

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading in Catholic aesthetics 25 Oct. 2007
By Liangtu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If "ressourcement" means anything to you or if you believe the liturgical reforms of Vatican II have yet to be interpreted correctly, then this book is a must-read. The title is deceptively narrow in focus. 13th century France is merely the prism through which Male presents a full-bodied liturgical and apostolic sensibility, and thereby reveals the shallowness of modern Western Catholicism's de facto attitudes towards its historically cosmic and incarnational vision.

The book reminds us that liturgy, and the aesthetic vision it instills in its participants, is the heart of all social and religious life. Its impairment can only lead to a devolution of morale up and down its ranks. As they say, "without vision the people perish," and that's exactly what's happening in the "modernized" Catholic Church. Moreover, Male's book demonstrates that not just any vision will do. The current instinct among Catholic parishes to follow the lead of evangelical megachurches or liberal mainline Protestants only further slices into Catholic authenticity at its heels. A 13th century Catholic France is thus of far greater relevance to the Church today than anything that the modern West can offer. In case we forget, it really should matter that the Catholic Church is 10x older than the USA. So why do we continue to privilege American cultural fads over the treasure trove of Catholicism? Historical amnesia, which one of consumerist America's most effective OTC drugs. Male's book is a welcome salve for our decimated collective memory.

Thanks to Dover for reprinting this classic at a Dover price without compromising on illustrations, which is one-fourth the price of the Westview edition!
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