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225 × 178 mm
348 pages
110 illustrations, 57 in colour
05 Jun 2009

Art and Religion in Eighteenth-century Europe Nigel Aston

Eighteenth-century Europe witnessed monumental upheavals in both the Catholic and Protestant faiths and the repercussions rippled down to the churches' religious art forms. In this major new study, Nigel Aston chronicles the intertwining of cultural and institutional turmoil during this pivotal century.

The sustained production and popularity of religious art in the face of competition from increasingly prevalent secular artworks lies at the heart of this book. Religious art staked out new spaces of display in state institutions, palaces and private collections as well as taking advantage of state patronage from monarchs such as Louis XIV and George III, who funded religious art in an effort to enhance their national projects and monarchial prestige.

Aston explores the motivations of private collectors and how they exhibited their artworks, and analyses changing Catholic and Protestant attitudes toward art. He examines purchases made by corporate patrons such as charity hospitals and religious confraternities, and considers what this reveals about the changing religiosity of eighteenth-century Europe. An in-depth historical study, Art and Religion in Eighteenth-century Europe will be essential for art history and religious studies scholars alike.

‘an important book about a much-neglected subject, and it is my sincere wish that art historians read it. It reveals not only the importance of religion to eighteenth-century society but also the potential of art to contribute to that importance. Aston has given art historians his view of a large, intricate, mostly still-uncharted field of immensely rich material.’ – CAA Reviews

‘This remarkable book masterfully combines history of art and religious history and is a must read for everyone interested in early modern Christianity, since it successfully challenges established interpretations of religion and provides a magisterial overview of the contexts in which religious art during the 18th century was produced and received.’ – Theological Studies

‘a highly important contribution to our knowledge of the role of religion and its imagery in European culture from 1700 to 1800.’ - Sehepunkte

‘The author's capacity to sweep his gaze across Europe from Stockholm to Lisbon and from Dublin to St Petersburg is dazzling.’ – Art Newspaper

‘Aston's luminous book’ – Catholic Herald

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Nigel Aston is Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester. He is the author of Religious Change in Europe 1650-1914 (1997) and Religion and Revolution in France 1780-1804 (2000).