The Marvellous and the Monstrous in the Sculpture of Twelfth-Century Europe
Title Details

202 Pages

24.4 x 17.2 cm

40 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Boydell Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture

Imprint: Boydell Press

The Marvellous and the Monstrous in the Sculpture of Twelfth-Century Europe

by Kirk Ambrose

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Richly-illustrated consideration of the meaning of the carvings of non-human beings, from centaurs to eagles, found in ecclesiastical settings.
Representations of monsters and the monstrous are common in medieval art and architecture, from the grotesques in the borders of illuminated manuscripts to the symbol of the "green man", widespread in churches and cathedrals. These mysterious depictions are frequently interpreted as embodying or mitigating the fears symptomatic of a "dark age". This book, however, considers an alternative scenario: in what ways did monsters in twelfth-century sculpture help audiences envision, perhaps even achieve, various ambitions? Using examples of Romanesque sculpture from across Europe, with a focus on France and northern Portugal, the author suggests that medieval representations of monsterscould service ideals, whether intellectual, political, religious, and social, even as they could simultaneously articulate fears; he argues that their material presence energizes works of art in paradoxical, even contradictory ways. In this way, Romanesque monsters resist containment within modern interpretive categories and offer testimony to the density and nuance of the medieval imagination.

KIRK AMBROSE is Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Art and Art History, University of Colorado Boulder.
Introduction: Approaching Monsters
Past Present
Ideal Bodies
(Il)Legibility
Creating Monsters
Imagining Cosmos
Epilogue
"An insightful and overdue study that will pave the way for future research." SPECULUM
"[An] excellent work. ... Ambrose's scholarly contribution is fundamental to the progression of the study of Romanesque sculpture." MEDIEVAL REVIEW
"Profound and intellectually wide-ranging. ... A book that offers both a fresh and profound perspective on monsters and a superb, original, perspective on the current state of the field and some of its central questions." BURLINGTON MAGAZINE
"Fascinating. To the wonderful sculptures on which the author focuses, he brings knowledge and sound judgment." Christopher Howse, DAILY TELEGRAPH

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9781783272426

April 2017

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Hardcover

9781843838319

August 2013

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9781782045496

August 2013

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Title Details

202 Pages

2.44 x 1.72 cm

40 b/w. Illustrations

Series: Boydell Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture

Imprint: Boydell Press