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Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and Their Meanings

Drury, John

28 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0300077777 / ISBN 13: 9780300077773
Published by Yale University Press, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Southampton Books (Southampton, NY, U.S.A.)

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Like New Book. First Edition, First Printing. NOT a remainder. NOT a book club edition. Published by Yale University Press, 1999. Book itself is like new with top corners of last two pages clipped out. Also has a pea-sized stain along top of pages; interior is clean and unmarked. Dust jacket has very light shelf wear. Tight, sharp corners, bright spine lettering. No writing, highlighting, underlining, dog ears, etc. No rips, tears, etc. Pages and boards crisp and straight. Spine un-broken with no spine lean. Book in un-read condition. 100% positive feedback. 30 day money back guarantee. NEXT DAY SHIPPING! Excellent customer service. Please email with any questions or if you would like a photo. Ships from Sag Harbor, New York. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-9601028806

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and ...

Publisher: Yale University Press

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Christianity is another country, says John Drury, and we need to familiarize ourselves with it in order to understand the universal meaning of its art. In this beautifully written book, Drury, an Anglican priest and theologian, looks at religious paintings through the ages and presents them to us in a fresh way?as works filled with passion, stories, and meaning. They become the poetry of such eternal human concerns as birth, death, sacrifice, love, and moral goodness and failure.
Drury points out the religious meanings in paintings that range from works by Piero della Francesca to those by Velazquez. In each case he views the whole picture?its composition, color, drawing, figures, and even architecture?and shows how it creates a religious image that addresses the spectator as a spiritual human being. Drury also provides a historical context for the works, comparing our perception with the perceptions of, for example, the medieval monarch or the Renaissance merchant who first commissioned the work. He examines how these pictures are able to speak to audiences across time and space, and in the process he allows us to respond to them at a more imaginative, empathetic level.


Painting the Word: Christian Pictures and their Meanings by John Drury, an Anglican priest who is dean of Christ Church, Oxford, is a wise, accessible, elegant, and beautiful book about Christian art. Painting the Word presents dazzling color reproductions of masterpieces by Rembrandt, Raphael, Rubens, Velázquez, Piero della Francesca, Cézanne, and others, accompanied by a text that does not merely analyze and explain these pictures but also meditates upon them, and even encourages readers to inhabit them. Drury's introduction explains his project: "This is a book about how Christian paintings convey their messages. It takes on whole paintings. It is not content with just picking symbols out of them for identification. Composition, color, contents (including architecture and landscape as well as figures) and the ways in which the paint itself is handled--all are treated as part and parcel of their religious meanings." Drury justifies his critical approach by pointing out that these pictures come from a time when western civilization and Christianity were coterminous. Contemporary spectators are visitors to this foreign world. However, Drury expertly draws us into this world in light, straightforward language. (Many of the chapters in this book began as sermons.) "Worship and looking at pictures require the same kind of attention," Drury explains, "a mixture of curiosity with a relaxed readiness to let things suggest themselves in their own good time." Put this way, paying attention becomes a calling. And as Drury describes this calling, it is hard to imagine a higher one. --Michael Joseph Gross

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