Seeable Signs

Seeable Signs

The Iconography of the Seven Sacraments, 1350-1544

Ann Eljenholm Nichols

Hardback
$165.00

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Boydell Press

Overview

Overview

Representations of the seven sacraments in medieval art examined in the context of theological, didactic and liturgical sources.
Seven-sacrament art — the representation of all seven sacraments —first appeared in Europe as an occasional subject in the 14th century, but by the middle of the 15th it had become widely popular. In this interdisciplinary study, Ann Eljenholm Nichols provides an analysis of the iconography of the sacraments. The book begins with a comprehensive survey of all known continental work, some of it never before published, but it focuses on English work. Nichols argues that before 1450 there existed an international iconography of the sacraments, but that thereafter English work diverges so radically it is necessary to speak of a distinctive insular iconography. The explanation for that difference, she believes, is to be found in the peculiar religious climate created by the Lollard rejection of the sacramental system. The need to counter-attack, to make the sacred signs seeable, accounts for the theological character of the font iconography. Her book makes an important contribution to the cultural and social history of medieval England.
ANN ELJENHOLM NICHOLS is Professor, Department of English, Winona State University. (East Anglia) Seven-sacrament art — the representation of all seven sacraments —firstappeared in Europe as an occasional subject in the 14th century, but by the middle of the 15th it had become widely popular. In this interdisciplinary study Ann Eljenholm Nichols provides an analysis of the iconography of the sacraments, focusing in particular on the imaged baptismal fonts in East Anglia, the single best corpus of extant seven-sacrament art. Nichols argues that after 1450 English work diverges radically from the international iconography of the sacraments; the explanation for this distinctive insular tradition, she believes, is to be found in the peculiar religious climate created by the Lollard rejection of the sacramental system, a rejection vigorously pursued in East Anglia. Her careful use of literary evidence —theological, didactic and liturgical —to illu

Details

July 1994
100 black and white, 4 line illustrations
496 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
ISBN: 9780851153421
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC HBLC1
BISAC HIS037010
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Reviews

Handsomely produced and lavishly illustrated... the best and most comprehensive account to date of the theology and practice of the sacraments, and their representation in all media, in the later middle ages... This stimulating, learned and lucid book has placed every student of medieval religion and art in her debt. TLS An important contribution to our understanding of the popular practice of religion in late medieval England... in helping us to see and understand what was obscure and neglected, it is a model of serious scholarship. MEDIUM AEVUM (C. David Benson)Makes a major contribution to our understanding of late medieval religion in England. ...The book raises various important questions, in particular...whether the (representations of the sacraments) should be seen as expressions of popular religion or rather as teaching imposed by churchmen on a hesitant or reluctant laiety. JNL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORYA book of rare quality in the freshness and many facets of its subject, in its learning, and in its exemplary presentation. CHURCH HISTORY