1. Don Balken

    Robert Kiely is, indeed, a man with an exceptional sensibility. He is also a Benedictine oblate—secular but committed to making life and work acts of prayer. That accounts, I think, for the thoughtfulness that informs his writing.

  2. Joan C.

    The work of one’s hands is a significant part of the Benedictine Way. Whatever else it might be in addition, painting is as much manual labor as sculpting. Or boot making. We can wonder what effect it would have on discussions of art if more art historians had a Benedictine regard for the physically—the stuff—of painting and its relation to a trained hand. (If I’m not mistaken, this has been a covert thread running through various posts on this site.)

  3. Studio Matters

    Thank you, Joan. Yes, you are right. Regard for manual labor, for the way hands serve (or disserve) sensibility, is a running theme here. Not so covert either. A good way into the topic, one that that bypasses prejudices about art as a higher activity than others, is Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soul Craft. It could make spiritual reading for art history majors, too.

  4. Sounds like a lovely book. Thank you for the recommendation. I wonder what compelled a scholar of modern literature to undertake a book like this? A grant?

  5. Thank you for this recommendation Maureen, I very much look forward to seeing more of Mr Kiely’s work on the saints.

    It is not uncommon to have non-art historians writing about art. This being said, the focus of Early Modern art history has changed it seems. The legacy of Panofsky, Wind, even Freedberg still looms large over the genre and many that are not familiar withmore recent publications will think the modus operandi has not changed.

    Published only in 2011, volumes by Marcia Hall and Alexander Nagel have largely gone unnoted outside scholarly circles, despite their great approachability and fascinating summation of patterns and concepts in Renaissance art in a modern, fresh manner – no elaborate nomenclature in Latin and French, no internal ahistorical (Friedian) musing. It’s all good stuff, and not enough people are reading about it!

    Kind Regards

  6. Studio Matters

    That is a good question, Alberti’s Window, but no, not a grant. There are more routes into art history than that for a writer enamored of the West’s patrimony of sacred art.

    As he acknowledges, his father was an artist. His own love of Italian art was sparked by a week in Florence while on return from active duty in 1956. He went into the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine to get out the rain and stumbled into the Brancacci Chapel: “I had never seen anything like it. I had never heard of Masaccio. . . . But I did know that I was in the presence of something rare, a profoundly moving witness to life . . .”

    Kiely had been a student of literature and, as he admits, knew nothing of art history. In 1991, he was invited to be a Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard U. Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. He came again in 2009. The book was a long-simmering project of love.

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