New Publication: The Interaction of Art and Relics in Late Medieval and Early Modern Art, ed. Livia Stoenescu

The collection of essays gathered in this volume investigates the interaction between art and relics as a distinct historical relevance for devotional art of Early Modernity and the Renaissance. Recent studies in the material culture of artifacts from these periods have drawn increasing attention to a sense of material tangibility derived from relics. Putting that conclusion into perspective, this edited collection focuses on the aesthetic meaning generated by a specific material culture of sanctity – one in which artists based their practice upon the nature, variety, and history of relics. Works of art that contained relics shared in the aura of the relics, defining themselves as non-substitutable signs, or signs that preserved the physical relationship to the immutable nature and origin of relics. As studied in this volume, funerary monuments, chapel decorations, altarpieces, liturgical objects, and sacred sites yielded an unordinary aesthetic meaning, one that captured and at the same time transmitted the histories linked to a relic. Each chapter emphasizes the specific history contained within works of art premised upon relics and thus forever embedded in the relics’ status as sacred originals.

Table of Contents:

I. Relics in the Art, Decoration, and Architectural Memory of Early Modern Chapels

Kristina Keogh, Authenticating the Holy Body: Transitions between Relic and Image in the Early Modern Cults of Caterina de’ Vigri and Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi

Cloe Cavero de Carondelet, Reframing a Medieval Miracle in Early Modern Spain: The Origins of Our Lady del Sagrario of Toledo

Alison Fleming, Art and the Relics of St. Francis Xavier in Dialogue

II. Relics Integral to Sacred Spaces and Works of Art

Sarah Cadagin, The Interrelation of Curtains, Altarpieces, Relics: Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Response to the Cult of the Volto Santo in Lucca Cathedral

Suzanna Simor, Relics and the Visualization of the Christian Creed

Livia Stoenescu, The Place of Relics in Loca Sancta, Medieval Combinations, and the Catholic Reform

III. Artists Engaging with Relics

Jérémie Koering, Michelangelo’s Relics: Some Aspects of Artistic Devotion in Cinquecento Italy

Sarah Dillon, The Duality of Glass: Revealing and Concealing Holy Relics in Early Modern Italy

For more information, visit the Brepols website:


Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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