Meyer Schapiro (1904-96), renowned for his critical essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century painting, also played a decisive role as a young scholar in defining the style of art and architecture known as Romanesque. And, appropriately, when he was invited to deliver the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard, he chose Romanesque architectural sculpture as his topic. These lectures, acclaimed for the verve and freshness with which Schapiro delivered them, languished unpublished for decades. But Linda Seidel, who knew Schapiro well and attended the 1967 lectures, has now expertly transcribed and edited them, presenting them for the first time to an audience beyond the halls of Harvard.
In editing the lectures, Seidel closely followed the recordings of the originals. Sentences are rendered as Schapiro spoke them, affording readers a unique opportunity to experience the legendary teacher as he rarely appears in print: forming his thoughts spontaneously, interrupting himself to develop related ideas, and responding to the audience’s interests by introducing humorous asides. Nonetheless, these lectures are carefully constructed, demonstrating Schapiro’s commitment to the originality and value of artistic production and affirming his lifelong belief in artists’ engagement with their cultures. Amply illustrated with many key works and augmented with Seidel’s indispensable introduction, this long-awaited volume will delight students and scholars of art history, as well as anyone interested in seeing a new side of a profoundly influential mind.