Reassessing English alabaster carving: medieval sculpture and its contexts

De Beer, Lloyd (2018) Reassessing English alabaster carving: medieval sculpture and its contexts. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia .

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Alabaster sculptures in the form of panels for altarpieces or free standing images were one of the most significant artistic outputs of late medieval England, but they remain poorly understood. They have, moreover, featured only rarely in wider art-historical studies of the later European Middle Ages. On one hand this is a historiographical predicament. For ideological and aesthetic reasons, English alabaster was quarantined; it was seen as an isolated and provincial phenomenon by a series of scholars writing from the late nineteenth century onwards. The narrow picture they formed has remained firmly in place. On the other hand the destructive consequences of the English Reformation continue to obscure our view. Many hundreds of panels are broken or dispersed as a result of sixteenth-century iconoclasm, and there is little surviving documentary evidence to identify who made them or where they were made for.
The central aim of this thesis is to reassess English alabasters by exploring them in their proper European contexts. Chapter One sets the scene by outlining the status and significance of English alabaster carving after the Reformation. From here the discussion moves on in Chapters Two and Three to explore the production of altarpieces and free-standing sculptures. Chapter Four builds on this approach by reuniting a single altarpiece, before zooming out to address the trade, reception and functions of Continental prints and sculptures circulating between England and the Low Countries. This chapter demonstrates the complex interplay between printed and sculptural forms. Chapter Five looks at the post-medieval reception and reuse of English alabasters on the Continent, specifically in Denmark and Holland. By considering English alabaster sculpture in a broader European context, a new history of 3 the corpus and a new framework for understanding its status and significance is proposed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2019 13:31
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2019 13:31

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