Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-Century Monument


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Sculpture as Theatre

David Bindman and Malcolm Baker

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Louis François Roubiliac, the most compelling sculptor in eighteenth-century Britain, was responsible for many complex and dramatic monuments that can be seen in Westminster Abbey and churches throughout the country. This book is not only the first extended treatment of the artist since 1928 but is also an exploration of tomb sculpture in the context of the period.

The first section, written by David Bindman, discusses the reasons for the commissioning of tomb sculpture, ideas of death and the afterlife, the setting of the tomb, the themes that govern its imagery, and the negotiations between sculptor and patron. The second section, written by Malcolm Baker, examines in detail the processes involved in the design and making of the monuments. Through an analysis of the monuments themselves, the surviving models, and a range of documentary evidence, Baker considers Roubiliac's technical procedures and compares them to those of other sculptors in Britain and on the continent. The volume ends with a full catalogue raisonné of Roubiliac's known monuments. Each commission is discussed in detail, with full accounts of contemporary documentation, inscriptions, physical construction, and related models.

By examining the particular social and religious conditions of the time it becomes possible to account not only for the distinctive features of Roubiliac's work and practice but also for how such theatrical works came to be accepted and admired. The book is fully illustrated, all the major works having been newly photographed to make visible details that are impossible to see under normal viewing conditions.

Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art

David Bindman is Durning-Lawrence Professor of History of Art and head of department at University College, London. Malcolm Baker is senior research fellow in eighteenth-century studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

"The first comprehensive study of Roubiliac since 1928, this innovative book looks at his work within a broad cultural framework and explores tomb and other sculpture in the context of the period. . . . With a complete catalogue of all Roubiliac's known works and wonderfully enhanced by the inclusion of many specially commissioned photographs, this is a scholarly and fascinating portrait of Roubiliac's achievements and history."—Antique Dealer & Collectors Guide

"Full of interesting material and lively commentary: it leaves the reader with a strong sense of the sculptor's astonishing inventiveness."—Chloe Chard, The Financial Times

"This is an important and long-awaited book. . . . It should be in the possession of every one interested in the history of British sculpture and church monuments."—John Physick, Churchscape

"It is hard to imagine how this superb work could be improved. Highly recommended."—Choice

"A major event. . . . [It] advances the study of 18th-century sculpture in England by the variety of fresh approaches it takes."—Michael Hall, Country Life

"The present volume, in its suggestive and complex reading of Roubiliac's achievement, is a worthy literary 'monument' to the greatest sculptor to have graced England's shores in the eighteenth century."—Martin Postle, Apollo Magazine

"The book gives a wonderful insight into the processes by which Roubiliac and his contemporaries worked out the designs for their monuments, and is well illustrated to show how he differed markedly from them. Baker's catalogue of his 42 funerary monuments and the four further monuments by other sculptors which include busts by him as well as the nine formerly attributed to him form an essential tool for all students and are thoroughly and carefully described."—Anthony Du Boulay, Huguenot Society Proceedings

"Bindman and Baker begin from material facts and present a compelling account of the work of the leading master of a genre which rose to great prominence in mid-eighteenth-century England."—Betsy Rosasco, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

"A decisive merit of this book is that it frees the genre of the monograph from its traditional constraints. . . . This is an excellent volume, whose conclusions reach far beyond the work of a single artist. Furthermore, this book is a successful example of collaborative work between university and museum, and it shows that valuable research can be undertaken in both institutions."—Klaus Herding, Art History

Winner of the 1996 Mitchell Prize, awarded by the Mitchell Foundation for the History of Art.

Winner of a Choice 1996 Outstanding Academic Book Award

Winner of the 1997 Historians of British Art Book Award
ISBN: 9780300063332
Publication Date: September 27, 1995
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art
424 pages, 7 1/2 x 10
289 b/w + 16 color illus.
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