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Scientia Artis (SCAR 6)
I. Geelen, D. Steyaert
Imitation and Illusion
Applied Brocade in the Art of the Low Countries in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

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660 p., 230 x 290 mm, 2011
ISBN: 978-2-930054-11-7
Languages: English
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Retail price: EUR 90,00 excl. tax
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In the late Middle Ages luxurious textiles were among the most highly prized indicators of status and wealth and an essential requirement of prestigious secular and ecclesiastical life. The depiction of these sumptuous silks and gold brocades was a crucial element in the visual arts, and their realistic and recognizable representation was a challenge to every artist. Painters and polychromers strove to imitate the fashionable fabrics by using applied brocade, a highly sophisticated form of relief decoration that adhered to panel paintings, murals and sculpture and through the play of light and shadow evoked the dazzling illusion of gold-brocaded cloths.

Imitation and Illusion is the result of a detailed study of applied brocade in the art of the Low Countries. Eleven fascinating and innovative chapters offer an in-depth examination of the historical, geographical, morphological and technical aspects of this cast tin relief technique. New light is also shed on artistic collaboration and workshop practice in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century. The catalogue includes 86 well known and lesser known panel and wall paintings, sculptures, altarpieces, and architectural elements produced between 1420 and 1540, decorated with applied brocade and providing stunning testimony to the visual variety and material magnificence of late-medieval art.

Abundantly illustrated, Imitation and Illusion investigates the artistic production of the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Low Countries from an intriguing and original perspective. It represents a significant contribution to our understanding of medieval polychromy and will appeal to everyone whose curiosity is aroused by the illusionistic ingenuity of the medieval artist.

"Occasionally a publication elicits envy for its scholarly scope and depth: Imitation and Illusion, beautifully illustrated, is such a book. (...) this book offers a fascinating technical study of applied brocades in Netherlandish art." (Ester van Duijn, in: HNA Review of Books,


Interest Classification:
Fine Arts & Performing Arts
Medieval painting
Other art forms
Decorative arts

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