Book Series Art History (Outside a Series)

The Interaction of Art and Relics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Art

Livia Stoenescu (ed)

  • Pages: iv + 185 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:51 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58398-3
  • Hardback
  • Available


The collection of essays gathered in this volume investigates the interaction between art and relics as a distinct historical relevance for devotional art of Early Modernity and the Renaissance. Recent studies in the material culture of artifacts from these periods have drawn increasing attention to a sense of material tangibility derived from relics. Putting that conclusion into perspective, this edited collection focuses on the aesthetic meaning generated by a specific material culture of sanctity – one in which artists based their practice upon the nature, variety, and history of relics. Works of art that contained relics shared in the aura of the relics, defining themselves as non-substitutable signs, or signs that preserved the physical relationship to the immutable nature and origin of relics. As studied in this volume, funerary monuments, chapel decorations, altarpieces, liturgical objects, and sacred sites yielded an unordinary aesthetic meaning, one that captured and at the same time transmitted the histories linked to a relic. Each chapter emphasizes the specific history contained within works of art premised upon relics and thus forever embedded in the relics’ status as sacred originals..


I. Relics in the Art, Decoration, and Architectural Memory of Early Modern Chapels

Kristina Keogh, Authenticating the Holy Body: Transitions between Relic and Image in the Early Modern Cults of Caterina de’ Vigri and Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi

Cloe Cavero de Carondelet, Reframing a Medieval Miracle in Early Modern Spain: The Origins of Our Lady del Sagrario of Toledo

Alison Fleming, Art and the Relics of St. Francis Xavier in Dialogue

II. Relics Integral to Sacred Spaces and Works of Art

Sarah Cadagin, The Interrelation of Curtains, Altarpieces, Relics: Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Response to the Cult of the Volto Santo in Lucca Cathedral

Suzanna Simor, Relics and the Visualization of the Christian Creed

Livia Stoenescu, The Place of Relics in Loca Sancta, Medieval Combinations, and the Catholic Reform

III. Artists Engaging with Relics

Jérémie Koering, Michelangelo’s Relics: Some Aspects of Artistic Devotion in Cinquecento Italy

Sarah Dillon, The Duality of Glass: Revealing and Concealing Holy Relics in Early Modern Italy