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Art and Ritual in Golden-Age Spain:
Sevillian Confraternities and the Processional Sculpture of Holy Week
Susan Verdi Webster

Winner of the 1999 Eleanor Tufts Book Award, American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies

Hardcover | 1999 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691048192


For nearly five centuries, lay religious groups throughout the Spanish-speaking world have staged elaborate public processions commemorating the events of Christ's passion during Holy Week. In the Golden Age, such processions featured extraordinarily lifelike sculpted images that were naturalistically painted, elaborately clothed and adorned, and surrounded by convincing stage properties and scenography--all of which combined to create a profound impression on spectators. Long dismissed as a minor form of popular art, these polychrome wood sculptures emerge from this book as a unique genre, one that can be best understood within its ritual context. Here, Susan Verdi Webster explores the Holy Week processions of penitential confraternities in Golden-Age Seville, for which many of Spain's greatest sculptors created some of the most illusionistic works ever. She demonstrates how the pivotal role of the sculptures in procession transformed them from carved wooden objects to catalysts for intense spiritual and emotional experiences shared by spectators in the streets.

Drawing on extensive archival evidence and contemporary chronicles, Webster is among the first to examine in depth Spanish processional sculpture, its patrons, and its ritual function. Her inquiry wends through a kaleidoscopic variety of arenas--artistic, religious, social, cultural, and political--to provide a fascinating perspective on popular religious devotion in Golden-Age Spain and on a previously undervalued dimension of Spanish sculpture.


"Susan Verdi Webster offers us a fascinating book on Sevillian processional sculpture during the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. . . . Webster has made a tremendous contribution to the field, and has laid a foundation on which she and others can continue to build."--Burlington

File created: 3/10/2015

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