Developments in medieval science that elevated sight above the other senses found religious expression in the Christian emphasis on miracles, relics, and elaborate structures. In his incisive survey of Gothic art and architecture, Roland Recht argues that this preoccupation with vision as a key to religious knowledge profoundly affected a broad range of late medieval works.
In addition to the great cathedrals of France, Recht explores key religious buildings throughout Europe to reveal how their grand designs supported this profusion of images that made visible the signs of scripture. Metalworkers, for example, fashioned intricate monstrances and reliquaries for the presentation of sacred articles, and technical advances in stained glass production allowed for more expressive renderings of holy objects. Sculptors, meanwhile, created increasingly naturalistic works and painters used multihued palettes to enhance their subjects’ lifelike qualities. Reimagining these works as a link between devotional practices in the late Middle Ages and contemporaneous theories that deemed vision the basis of empirical truth, Recht provides students and scholars with a new and powerful lens through which to view Gothic art and architecture.