Stephen Perkinson
Stephen Perkinson is Associate Professor of Art History and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Bowdoin.
Perkinson, Stephen
Perkinson, Stephen
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Description: The Ivory Mirror: The Art of Mortality in Renaissance Europe
We often imagine the Renaissance as an age of exceptional human progress and artistic achievement. But, intriguingly, macabre images proliferated in precisely this period: unsettling depictions of Death personified, of decaying bodies, of young lovers struck down in their prime. These morbid themes run riot in the remarkable array of artworks featured in The Ivory Mirror. Nearly 200 artworks—from ivory prayer beads to gem-encrusted jewelry to exquisitely carved small sculptures—present us with an aspect of this era that is at once darker and more familiar than we might have expected. Focused on the challenge of making choices in an increasingly complex and uncertain world, Renaissance artists turned to poignant, often macabre imagery to address the critical human concern of acknowledging death, while striving to create a personal legacy that might outlast it. The essays gathered here discuss the development and significance of this transformative art of the past, while exploring themes that are still relevant today: how does one navigate the implicit tension between mortality and morality and seek to balance individual pleasure with the pursuit of a greater good?

*This eBook is available exclusively on the A&AePortal*
Print publication date September 2017 (in print)
Print ISBN 9780300225952
EISBN 9780300260007
Illustrations 161
Print Status in print