A beautifully illustrated introduction to painted altarpieces, Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500 shows how these works were once part of decorative, integrated schemes, highlighting reconstructions and showing regional variations.
Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500 focuses on Italian altarpieces from the second half of the thirteenth century to the very end of the fifteenth century. Although their display on the main floor of the National Gallery surveys their stylistic development, they are often viewed as gallery paintings, while many examples of fine quality and importance are rarely seen, residing in the lower galleries.
Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500 examines the original functions and locations of altarpieces, as well as their formal and typological development, and draws on the wealth of scholarship undertaken in this field over the past thirty years.
Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500 is a free National Gallery exhibition opening on 6 July 2011.
The Art of Worship: Paintings, Prayers, and Readings for Meditation represents a unique collaboration between two famous Trafalgar Square institutions: the National Gallery and the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. In this beautifully illustrated book, the Reverend Nicholas Holtam – formerly Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and now Bishop of Salisbury – presents his favourite paintings from the National Gallery, alongside religious commentary, Bible quotations, prayers and poetry.
The illustrations encourage the reader to think about how art can sometimes be a surprising doorway into our own spirituality. Holtam gives his own personal response to the paintings and presents them as a source of reflection and contemplation.
Many works in the National Gallery feature Christian subjects, but Holtam has chosen paintings from a wide range of artists for The Art of Worship. His more unexpected choices include Edgar Degas’s Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, Vincent van Gogh’s Long Grass with Butterflies and J.M.W. Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire.
Holtam writes accessibly on themes that concern us all: struggle, blessing and our search for peace. The Art of Worship will delight, comfort and challenge the reader, encouraging us to look beyond our own preoccupation with the self through the simple act of worship.
Nicholas Holtam was vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields from 1995 until 2011, and is now Bishop of Salisbury. Richard Chartres is the Bishop of London.