New Publication: ‘Romanesque Tomb Effigies: Death and Redemption in Medieval Europe, 1000–1200’ by Shirin Fozi

Framed by evocative inscriptions, tumultuous historical events, and the ambiguities of Christian death, Romanesque tomb effigies were the first large-scale figural monuments for the departed in European art. In this book, Shirin Fozi explores these provocative markers of life and death, establishing early tomb figures as a coherent genre that hinged upon histories of failure and frustrated ambition.

In sharp contrast to later recumbent funerary figures, none of the known European tomb effigies made before circa 1180 were commissioned by the people they represented, and all of the identifiable examples of these tombs were dedicated to individuals whose legacies were fraught rather than triumphant. Fozi draws on this evidence to argue that Romanesque effigies were created to address social rather than individual anxieties: they compensated for defeat by converting local losses into an expectation of eternal victory, comforting the embarrassed heirs of those whose histories were marked by misfortune and offering compensation for the disappointments of the world.

Featuring numerous examples and engaging the visual, historical, and theological contexts that inform them, this groundbreaking work adds a fresh dimension to the study of monumental sculpture and the idea of the individual in the northern European Middle Ages. It will appeal to scholars of art history and medieval studies.

“This deeply researched and insightful book fills a significant lacuna in the study of medieval sculpture, portraiture, and commemoration. It makes a vital contribution to the field’s ‘material turn,’ bringing together monuments in stone, metal, and stucco to reveal both their distinctive properties and their interconnections. At the same time, Fozi never lets us forget the real human beings these tombs honored or the communities that took pride in and comfort from these depictions.”

Jacqueline E. Jung, author of Eloquent Bodies: Movement, Expression, and the Human Figure in Gothic Sculpture

$89.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-08719-1

264 pages; 8″ × 10″; 16 color/80 b&w illustrations

Order and find out more here.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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