Entirely original in its methodology, this study offers a fresh approach to the study of Romanesque façade sculpture. Declining to revisit questions of artistic personalities, artistic style and connoisseurship, Dorothy F. Glass delves instead into the historical and historiographical context for a group of significant monuments erected in Italy between the last decade of the eleventh century and the first third of the twelfth century. In her reading, local culture takes precedence over names, context over connoisseurship; she argues that it was the cultural, intellectual and religious life of the abbeys of San Benedetto Po and Nonantola that provided the framework for the Reformist ethos of much of the sculpture adorning the cathedral of Modena. Glass argues that the monuments are deeply rooted in the concerns of the reform of the church, more commonly known as the Gregorian Reform, that these reform ideas and ideals were first fomented in monastic communities and then adopted by the new cathedrals built in cities that, freed of submission to imperial German rule, had recently rejoined the papal fold. The Sculpture of Reform in North Italy, ca 1095-1130: History and Patronage of Romanesque Façades moves scholarship beyond continuously reiterated opinions concerning style, attribution, chronology, origins and influence, instead opening new and fruitful lines of inquiry into the patronage and historical significance of these extraordinary monuments.
'Professor Glass has succeeded in writing the most important book on Italian Romanesque sculpture in decades. It is a brilliant study. She has done it with a superbly clear and spare style of writing, with effective visual analysis, and with supremely well informed argumentation based on the visual material and relevant textual sources. This is one of the most significant art history studies I have read on Italian medieval art.' Jaroslav Folda, University of North Carolina, USA 'This is an overtly polemical book, buttressed by substantial new evidence and persuasive arguments in support of its overarching hypothesis. It reframes a topic of great importance for European Romanesque, and no one interested in the field can afford to ignore it.' Burlington Magazine '… a nearly exhaustive review […] providing a firmer basis for the posited link between contemporary events and the works of art… Recommended.' Choice
Contents: Introduction; Papal politics, Papal culture; The geography of power, the power of geography: Mantua and San Benedetto Po; The Benedictine abbey of Nonantola: reframing history, debating theology; The cathedral at Modena: history and historiography; The reform programme at the cathedral of Modena; Beyond the centre: the cathedrals of Cremona and Piacenza; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.