Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric (Hardback)
  • Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric (Hardback)
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Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric (Hardback)

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£74.95
Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 02/02/2011
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Hans Holbein the Younger is best known for his work in Henry VIII's England, where he painted portraits and designed decorative objects for courtly circles. England, however, only accounts for half of Holbein's working life. He developed his artistic identity on the Continent, creating a diverse range of artworks for urban elites, scholars, and publishers. Translating Nature into Art argues that by the time Holbein reached England, he had developed two roughly alternative styles of representation: a highly descriptive and objective mode, which he used for most of his portraiture, and a much more stylized and inventive manner, which he applied primarily to religious, historical, and decorative subjects. Jeanne Nuechterlein contends that when Holbein used his stylized manner, he acknowledged that he was the inventor of the image; when Holbein painted a portrait or a religious work in the objective manner, he implied instead that he was observing something in front of him and reproducing what he saw. By establishing this dialectic, Holbein was actively engaging in one of the central debates of the Reformation era concerning the nature and validity of the visible world. Holbein explored how much art should look like the visible world, and in the process discovered alternative ways of making representation meaningful.

Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
ISBN: 9780271036922
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 1157 g
Dimensions: 254 x 203 x 25 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"Amid a host of recent German-language monographs and exhibitions on Hans Holbein, most of the material facts about the artist have been established and reexamined. But this new study by Jeanne Nuechterlein steps back to consider-within their singular, defined historical contexts-what art historians now term the visuality of the artist's works. She finds two major, contrasting approaches in his picturing: a symbolic yet gestural allegorical vocabulary for religious imagery, versus a sober, detached documentation chiefly focused on his portrait sitters. Buffeted by the politics and iconoclasm of the Reformation in both Switzerland and England, Holbein engaged the visible world as well as the problem of representation itself, including in unique early religious works such as his Dead Christ in the Tomb, which invested even material representation with meaning. Like Bryan Wolf in his assessment of Vermeer's visual modernity, Nuechterlein explores just what her title declares-how across the course of his tumultuous career Holbein translated nature into art, pioneering in his distinctive fashion a vision of picturing that fortified European painting for centuries to come."

-Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania


"Translating Nature into Art is a fascinating case study of the long-standing debate about the relationship between naturalism and meaning, between appearance and essence, in art. It is not casual reading, but diligence will be rewarded with a better understanding not just of Hans Holbein but of all art."

-R. K. Dickson, The Bloomsbury Review


"Nuechterlein rewards her readers with wonderfully sensitive observations about Holbein's art and his possible intentions. Translating Nature into Art is richly rewarding. Nuechterlein proposes a method for understanding Holbein's stylistic decisions and their theoretical underpinnings. . . . Nuechterlein's exercise in careful study of a limited number of works yields stimulating new insights. For this reader, the book makes Holbein the artist both more human and more interesting."

-Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation


"In this subtle, original and admirably clearly written book Nuechterlein explores both the nuances of Holbein's visual language and the German and Latin constructions used in the writings of his contemporaries, at the same time placing the artist's work at the heart of contemporary debates on the use of images."

-Susan Foister, Burlington Magazine


"[Nuechterlein's] arguments throughout are fresh, insightful, thoroughly researched, and persuasively and eloquently set forth. Sixteenth-century scholars, both in the field of art history and beyond, will find rich stimulation in this welcome new work."

-Bobbi Dykema, Sixteenth Century Journal

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