The Trees of the Cross


You are viewing an older version of the Yalebooks website. Please visit out new website with more updated information and a better user experience:

Wood as Subject and Medium in the Art of Late Medieval Germany

Gregory C. Bryda

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $75.00
YUPComing Soon
Our shopping cart only supports Mozilla Firefox. Please ensure you're using that browser before attempting to purchase.

A revelatory study exploring wood’s many material, ecological, and symbolic meanings in the religious art of medieval Germany

In late medieval Germany, wood was a material laden with significance. It was an important part of the local environment and economy, as well as an object of religious devotion in and of itself.  Gregory C. Bryda examines the multiple meanings of wood and greenery within religious art—as a material, as a feature of agrarian life, and as a symbol of the cross, whose wood has resonances with other iconographies in the liturgy. Bryda discusses how influential artists such as Matthias Grünewald, known for the Isenheim Altarpiece, and the renowned sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider exploited wood’s multivalent nature to connect spiritual themes to the lived environment outside church walls. Exploring the complex visual and material culture of the period, this lavishly illustrated volume features works ranging from monumental altarpieces to portable pictures and offers a fresh understanding of how wood in art functioned to unlock the mysteries of faith and the natural world in both liturgy and everyday life.

Gregory C. Bryda is assistant professor of art history at Barnard College.

“Going deeper into history and daily life than scholarship on materiality and ecology ordinarily ventures, Bryda’s argument persuasively demonstrates that late medieval German art is invested with a rhythm of seasons, harvest, and bloom. Elegantly written and packed with new discoveries, this is a book to be imbibed, ingested, and oft consulted.”—Shira Brisman, University of Pennsylvania
ISBN: 9780300267655
Publication Date: June 27, 2023
216 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
124 color + 34 b/w illus.