Nicholas Penny

  • Pictures and Punishment: Art and Criminal Prosecution during the Florentine Renaissance by Samuel Edgerton
    Cornell, 243 pp, $39.50, March 1985, ISBN 0 8014 1705 8
  • Images of Man and Death by Philippe Ariès, translated by Janet Lloyd
    Harvard, 271 pp, £19.95, October 1985, ISBN 0 674 44410 8
  • Fingerprints of the Artists: European Terra-Cotta Sculpture from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections by Charles Avery and Alastair Laing
    Harvard, 298 pp, £127.50, September 1981, ISBN 0 674 30203 6

In 1909 there appeared a small book by Montgomery Carmichael modestly entitled Francia’s Masterpiece and dedicated to reconstructing the content, purpose and original setting of a single Renaissance altarpiece. It provided what is still the best account of the treatment of the Immaculate Conception in old Italian art. Carmichael deplored the limited outlook of the scholars of his day who were uninterested in the religious nature of the art they catalogued, and expressed his outrage at their complicity in the removal of ‘church pictures’ from ‘living use over altars and shrines to the chill fastnesses of meaningless museums and art galleries’ on the pretext of danger from the candles lit before them.

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