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The Trees of the Cross: Wood as Subject and Medium in the Art of Late Medieval Germany

A revelatory study exploring wood's many material, ecological, and symbolic meanings in the religious art of medieval Germany.

In late medieval Germany, wood was a material laden with significance. It was an important part of the local environment and economy, as well as an object of religious devotion in and of itself. Gregory C. Bryda examines the multiple meanings of wood and greenery within religious art—as a material, as a feature of agrarian life, and as a symbol of the cross, whose wood has resonances with other iconographies in the liturgy. Bryda discusses how influential artists such as Matthias Grünewald, known for the Isenheim Altarpiece, and the renowned sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider exploited wood's multivalent nature to connect spiritual themes to the lived environment outside church walls. Exploring the complex visual and material culture of the period, this lavishly illustrated volume features works ranging from monumental altarpieces to portable pictures and offers a fresh understanding of how wood in art functioned to unlock the mysteries of faith and the natural world in both liturgy and everyday life.

- Gregory C. Bryda
- 224 pages
- 8.8 inches W x 11.3 inches L
- Hardcover
- Yale University Press
- 2023
- Art History
- Item #: 978-0300267655