Pygmalion's Power: Romanesque Sculpture, the Senses, and Religious Experience by Thomas E. A. DalePygmalion's Power: Romanesque Sculpture, the Senses, and Religious Experience by Thomas E. A. Dale

Pygmalion's Power: Romanesque Sculpture, the Senses, and Religious Experience

byThomas E. A. Dale

Hardcover | October 30, 2019

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Pushed to the height of its illusionistic powers during the first centuries of the Roman Empire, sculpture was largely abandoned with the ascendancy of Christianity, as the apparent animation of the material image and practices associated with sculpture were considered both superstitious and idolatrous. In Pygmalion’s Power, Thomas E. A. Dale argues that the reintroduction of architectural sculpture after a hiatus of some seven hundred years arose with the particular goal of engaging the senses in a Christian religious experience.

Since the term “Romanesque” was coined in the nineteenth century, the reintroduction of stone sculpture around the mid-eleventh century has been explained as a revivalist phenomenon, one predicated on the desire to claim the authority of ancient Rome. In this study, Dale proposes an alternative theory. Covering a broad range of sculpture types—including autonomous cult statuary in wood and metal, funerary sculpture, architectural sculpture, and portraiture—Dale shows how the revitalized art form was part of a broader shift in emphasis toward spiritual embodiment and affective piety during the late eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Adding fresh insight to scholarship on the Romanesque, Pygmalion’s Power borrows from trends in cultural anthropology to demonstrate the power and potential of these sculptures to produce emotional effects that made them an important sensory part of the religious culture of the era.

Thomas E. A. Dale is Professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.Thomas E. A. Dale is Professor of Art History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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Title:Pygmalion's Power: Romanesque Sculpture, the Senses, and Religious ExperienceFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:304 pages, 10 × 9 × 1.13 inShipping dimensions:10 × 9 × 1.13 inPublished:October 30, 2019Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:027108345X

ISBN - 13:9780271083452

Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“The reasons for sculpture’s ‘revival’ and its vital eventual role in the visual culture of the Middle Ages have long dogged the narrative of medieval art. Dale offers an original and thought-provoking rewriting of the problem by exploring sculpture’s new spiritual embodiment, decisively showing how viewers’ psychological investment in sculptural objects—stone sculpture in a cloister, reliquaries in crypts, carved wooden Crucifixions—animated the works and gave them meaning. Pygmalion’s Power represents a significant reorientation for medieval sculpture studies and offers a welcome challenge to older orthodoxies.”—Robert A. Maxwell, author of The Art of Medieval Urbanism: Parthenay in Romanesque Aquitaine