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Gospel Figures in Art

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Gospel Figures in Art
By Stefano Zuffi. Translated by Thomas Michael Hartmann. (Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum: 2003. Pg. 384. 450 color illustrations) ISBN: 0-89236-727-X.

Reviewed by Herbert White - December 9, 2003

Gospel Figures in Art is the latest edition to Getty Publications series of art guidebooks. This new volume, by Stefano Zuffi is a wonderful companion volume to Saints in Art and Heroes in Art. These are the other two volumes in this series that are currently available; additional guidebooks are planned.

In this guide, Zuffi examines how the events, figures, and teachings of the Christian Church are depicted in art. This guide is devoted to those artistic works based upon descriptions found in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the apocryphal gospels.

The text is divided into eight sections that chronicle the life, and death, of Christ: This book is opulently illustrated with about 450 colored plates. Within each section, you will find a series of 'mini' chapters that detail one event or personage relating to Christ's life, such as The Presentation of Mary in the Temple or Mark. Each mini chapter includes a brief overview of the topic under discussion or a concise biography of the personage being addressed. These descriptions are illustrated by relevant works of art, along with commentaries on each work of art. The commentaries accompanying the works of art include details about what the painting illustrates and who the people in the painting are. Interpretive details are also proffered that help you evaluate the artistic merit of the work and how the artist manipulated the character's gestures and countenance in order to convey his intended message. These interpretive details will also help you to understand the painting's historical context, relevant to the period in which the painting was done, and how the work relates to comparable pieces.

This is a marvelous book. It is not only beautiful to look through, but it is also like having an art historian in your pocket whom you can pull out and consult at a moments notice. This book measures 5 1/4 inches by 7 3/4 inches, and is small enough to easily carry with you when visiting a museum or art gallery.

Gospel Figures in Art will be a boon to art history students, as well as anyone who wants to gain a better understanding and appreciation of the varied masterpieces that explore the events and luminaries in Christ's life.

Other books in this series include:
Related Reviews:

Saints in Art, By Rosa Giorgi.
A handy reference guide to the over 100 Saints commonly depicted in Western religous artwork.

Gods and Heroes in Art, By Lucia Impelluso.
A handy reference guide to the gods and heroes depicted in Western art.

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