Critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

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Sarah Scott and Jane Webster, eds.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 272 pp.; 67 b/w ills. Cloth $99.00 (0521805929)
Far too often works of art produced in the Roman provinces have been studied solely in relation to their supposed metropolitan models, with the notion that provincial art was imitation. This approach has led to a devaluation of the works: since they are regarded as derivative, they have not been examined as products of a specific place and time. Consequently, provincial art’s real role as innovative examples of the negotiation of competing concerns by provincial artists has been... Full Review
April 29, 2004
Mark A. Meadow
Zwolle, Netherlands: Waanders, 2004. 176 pp. Cloth $60.00 (904009473X)
Mark Meadow begins his book on Pieter Bruegel the Elder and the practice of rhetoric with a rhetorical exercise of his own: an exordium, a commencement on the artist’s identity, on the contours of rhetorical education in sixteenth-century Netherlandish culture, and on his own art-historical method. Like the sixteenth-century humanist Domenicus Lampsonius, Meadows asks, Who is this new Hieronymus Bosch called Pieter Bruegel? Although much of the painter’s biography escapes us, Meadow... Full Review
April 26, 2004
Jenifer Neils and John H. Oakley, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2003. 352 pp.; 170 color ills.; 251 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (0300099606)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., August 23–December 14, 2003; Onassis Cultural Center, New York, January 19–April 15, 2004; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 1–August 1, 2004; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, September 14–December 5, 2004
The status and experience of children in ancient Greek society receive fresh attention and thoughtful consideration in Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past. Both the catalogue and the exhibition that it accompanies probe the social realities of childhood in ancient Greece by examining portrayals of children in Greek art and other articles made for children’s use. As the contributing authors stress throughout the volume, works of art... Full Review
April 26, 2004
Suzanne L. Stratton-Pruitt, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 256 pp.; 61 b/w ills. Cloth $99.99 (0521660467)
Suzanne L. Stratton-Pruitt, ed.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 236 pp.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $91.00 (0521800579)
These volumes result from the intersection of two series at Cambridge University Press: the Cambridge Companions collection, now numbering over two hundred titles on subjects from Aristotle to William Wordsworth, but including relatively few artists outside the Italian Renaissance, and a more informal series of important books on Hispanic art and culture, including those produced out of the publisher’s New York office under the leadership of Beatrice Rehl. Both volumes under... Full Review
April 23, 2004
Zainab Bahrani
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003. 256 pp.; 28 ills. Cloth $59.95 (0812236483)
Ancient Near Eastern art is considered the poor stepchild of all ancient art, banished to the basement of the canon yet somehow supporting the whole structure of art that followed it. In her latest book, Zainab Bahrani attempts to bring the study of ancient Near Eastern art out of the proverbial cellar and into the forefront of academic attention. Considering the conservative nature of past scholarship in the field, it is somewhat unusual that the author chooses to view the most... Full Review
April 21, 2004
Erika Doss, ed.
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2001. 272 pp.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (1560989890)
The appearance of Life magazine’s first issue in November 1936 set off an explosion in American visual culture. With unanticipated eagerness viewers snapped up copies of this new, sight-centered magazine that promised to show them the world, photograph by photograph. Audiences delighted in the new prospects the magazine opened to them, as its images granted voyeuristic access to a spectrum of modern life, from the mundane to the marvelous. Once established, the magazine... Full Review
April 21, 2004
Anne Rudloff Stanton
Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2001. 287 pp.; 6 color ills.; 101 b/w ills. Paper $25.00 (0871699168)
Anne Stanton’s book provides a detailed and insightful examination of the Queen Mary Psalter (London, BLMS Royal 2 B.vii), a luxury devotional text that is densely illustrated with Old and New Testament subjects and marginal illuminations. The author focuses on the manuscript as a material artifact, its relationship to devotional manuscripts in England and France, and the connection between its contents and its proposed royal audience. On one level, Stanton’s study, which is based on... Full Review
April 20, 2004
Michael W. Cole
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 262 pp.; 8 color ills.; 66 b/w ills. Cloth $111.00 (0521813212)
The intriguing and misunderstood Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571) is receiving a much-needed reappraisal in current scholarship. Michael W. Cole’s anticipated Cellini and the Principles of Sculpture is a valuable addition to this effort and indeed to Renaissance studies as a whole. Cole focuses on Cellini as an artist rather than a personality and provides a revealing study of how a sixteenth-century sculptor functioned in his larger cultural milieu in order to “understand the sculptural... Full Review
April 16, 2004
Caroline P. Murphy
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 244 pp.; 60 color ills.; 170 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300099134)
The Bolognese painter Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614) has been enjoying a renaissance during the past fifteen to twenty years as scholars have attempted to recover the production of European women artists. Famous in her own day for her portraits, altarpieces, and history paintings, Fontana was capable of drawing greater fees than the Carracci, and for a period she was on a par with Anthony Van Dyck and Justus Sustermans. Of all woman artists, she has the largest body of surviving work... Full Review
April 15, 2004
Nancy Y. Wu, ed.
Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2002. 290 pp.; 159 b/w ills. Cloth $120.00 (0754619605)
Ad Quadratum: The Practical Application of Geometry in Medieval Architecture is the first publication in the Association Villard de Honnecourt (AVISTA) series, Studies in the History of Medieval Technology, Science, and Art. The goal of this series is to provide a publication venue for interdisciplinary studies in the fields of medieval art, architecture, science, and technology. The eleven essays included in the inaugural volume, edited by Nancy Y. Wu, address the geometry and... Full Review
April 8, 2004