Moving Sculptures

Southern Netherlandish alabasters from the 16th to 17th centuries in Central and Northern Europe


The Low Countries are generally considered to be the land of painting. Consequently, sculpture, especially that of the 16th century, has been insufficiently explored. In Moving Sculptures Aleksandra Lipińska presents a little-known chapter of the history of Netherlandish sculpture: the serial production of small-scale alabaster reliefs, altarpieces and statuettes in the workshops of Mechelen and Antwerp between c. 1525 and 1650. She gives the reader an insight into the rules of this craft, the specificity of the material, and the marketing methods employed. But the innovative element of this study lies in the fact that Lipińska analyses the phenomenon from the perspective of its distant recipients in Central and Northern Europe on the basis of works largely unknown to the broader public.

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Aleksandra Lipińska, Ph.D. (2003), is a junior professor of the Art History of Central and Eastern Europe at the Technische Universität Berlin. She has published extensively on Early Modern sculpture as well as on the issues of artistic migration and material meaning.
" Moving Sculptures is an impressive and much-needed book. It addresses a great number of concerns that have become central to the discipline: the materiality of artworks, the art market, the consequences of the Reformation for the visual arts, concepts of civic and courtly identity and their markers, and many others. Lipińska’s book also manages to offer a concentrated overview of Netherlandish antique sculpture, its main genres, and its chief practitioners.
Ethan Matt Kavaler, University of Toronto

"This English re-edition of Aleksandra Lipinska’s study on Southern Netherlandish alabasters most definitely fills an important gap in the research on Flemish sculpture and its dissemination in Europe."
"..., Lipinska’s excellent, broad-ranging study provides a perfect stimulus for further research into the “consumption” of these exquisite works of art in the broader patrician circles of Central and Northern Europe."
Valerie Herremans, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen

"Lipinska’s Moving Sculptures is beautifully researched, lucidly argued, and wonderfully informative. It should appeal to any scholar interested in the history of materials, the methods of artistic production, the rise of early modern art markets, and the aesthetics of taste and reception. Lipinska includes a small selection of relevant letters and other documents. Her superb English-language edition deserves a wide audience."
Jeffrey Chipps Smith, University of Texas at Austin

Acknowledgments vii

List of Figures, Graphs, and Tables ix

Introduction 1

Part 1
At the Source: Production of the Alabaster Sculpture in the Southern Netherlands
1 Alabaster as a Sculpture Material 17
2 Alabaster in Netherlandish Sculpture from the Late Gothic to
the Early Baroque 44
3 Serial Production of Alabaster Sculpture in Mechelen 96
4 The Spread of Alabaster Sculpture from the Low
Countries 124

Part 2
At the Destination: Southern Netherlandish Alabaster Sculpture in Central and Northern Europe
5 Altarpieces 143
6 Tombs and Epitaphs 205
7 Exhibits of Real and ‘Imagined’ Collections 254
8 Alabaster Chambers 271

Epilogue 279
Documents 287
Bibliography 301
Notes 333
Index of Persons 372
Index of Geographic Names 380
All interested in the art history of the Early Modern period, especially of Netherlandish sculpture, and anyone concerned with the art market, culture transfer, art of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe.