ITALIAN GOTHIC SCULPTURE, by John Pope-Hennessy (Phaidon, 42s.).
MR. POPE-HENNESSY, after his "Sienese Painters of the Quattrocento," now brings out this essay in the more uncertainly defined field of pre-Renaissance Italian sculpture.
The expected completeness of format-hallmark of Phaidon-is here; the compact. carefully worded introduction. the fine photographs and the irreproachable finale of scholarly notes on each sculptor or school. By contrast, the central theme appears the more tenuous and shadowy at its edges.
The author interprets the word " Gothic," for present purposes, as the title of a period rather than of a style; therefore the consistency of the honk must depend upon its continuity of period, whioh stretches from roughly 1100 to about the middle of the quattrocento.
Mr. Pope-Hennessy decides that both Ghiherti and Della Quercia should be classed as Gothic sculptors who merely reflect, without fully comprehending, the new Renaissance art. Yet the measure of the author's insecurity of definition is suggested by the following written about their contemporary: " Nanni di Banco can be looked upon at will as a Gothic artist in contact with Renaissance style, or as a Renaissance sculptor who retains sonic features of Gothic art."
Donatello, who was born in the late trecento, is entirely eliminated from the general scheme; Bartolornmeo Buon of Venice. however, dying later than the great Florentine. has a section to himself.
Many readers, indeed, might have been grateful had Mr. PopeHennessy flung all conscience about " Gothic " to the winds and treated us to a fuller discussion on those fascinating Romanesque artists. Wiligclmo and Antelami, who set the ball rolling in the 12th century.
G. de is B.