Cut in Alabaster: A Material of Sculpture and its European Traditions 1330-1530
By Kim Woods
Cut in Alabaster is the first comprehensive study of alabaster sculpture in Western Europe during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.
While marble is associated with Renaissance Italy, alabaster was the material commonly used elsewhere in Europe and has its own properties, traditions and meanings. It enjoyed particular popularity as a sculptural material during the two centuries 1330-1530, when alabaster sculpture was produced both for indigenous consumption and for export. Focussing especially on England, the Burgundian Netherlands and Spain, three territories closely linked through trade routes, diplomacy and cultural exchange, this book explores and compares the material practice and visual culture of alabaster sculpture in late medieval Europe. Cut in Alabaster charts sculpture from quarry to contexts of use, exploring practitioners, markets and functions as well as issues of consumption, display and material meanings. It provides detailed examination of tombs, altarpieces and both elite and popular sculpture, ranging from high status bespoke commissions to small, low-cost carvings produced commercially for a more popular clientele.
Kim Woods is a senior lecturer in Art History at the Open University, and a specialist in northern European late Gothic sculpture. She combines an object-based approach with an interest in materials and cultural exchange. Her single-authored book, Imported Images (Donington, 2007), focussed on wood sculpture. Since then she has been working on alabaster. Her Open University distance learning materials include the Renaissance Art Reconsidered volumes (Yale, 2007) and Medieval to Renaissance (Tate publishing, 2012).