The History of Venetian Renaissance Sculpture, ca. 1400–1530, 2 vols.
Anne Markham Schulz
Anne Markham Schulz has an impressive list of publications on Venetian sculpture behind her. Monographs on figures ranging from Antonio Rizzo and Nanni di Bartolo to Tullio Lombardo have all been groundbreaking in their assessment of these artists. Her formidable book on Venetian wood carving from 1350 to 1550 grasped a rich yet little-studied branch of Venetian art and made it accessible. One would be forgiven for thinking she has paid her dues to art history. Instead this year she has published a lavishly illustrated two-volume survey of Venetian sculpture from 1400 to 1530.
Markham Schulz takes us back to the roots of art history and the importance of looking. And she enables the reader to do the same. Through what must have been a Herculean task of persuasion and patience, she succeeded in having photographed a great deal of Venetian sculpture that is normally impossible to see – let alone at close quarters. The second volume of her publication is taken up with hundreds of newly commissioned black-and-white images of works on church rooftops, on facades or perched atop towering altars – all at an angle that enables readers to contemplate them properly.
The actual work of art is foremost in Markham Schulz’s assessments. There is a wealth of references to archival documents, yet she is not afraid to let a physical inspection change a long-standing assumption. One of the most remarkable examples is her re-attribution of the relief of the Miracle of the Miser’s Heart in the Cappella del Santo, Sant’ Antonio, Padua, from Tullio Lombardo to his little-known son Sante Lombardo – despite Tullio’s large signature along the front. This is a brave but honourable act that will make us all look again.
Stuart Lochhead is a dealer in European sculpture based in St James’s, London.
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