Sacred Spain Art and Belief in the Spanish World Ronda Kasl, Luisa Elena Alcalá, William A. Christian, Jaime Cuadriello, Javier Portús, Alfonso Rodríguez G. de Ceballos, María Cruz de Carlos Varona

Publication date:
05 Jan 2010
Indianapolis Museum of Art
400 pages: 305 x 254mm
25 b-w + 125 color illus.
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The art of Spain and Spanish America during the 17th century is overwhelmingly religious—it was intended to arouse wonder, devotion, and identification. Its forms and meanings are inextricably linked to the beliefs and religious practices of the people for whom it was made. In this groundbreaking book, scholars of art and religion look at new ways to understand the reception of use of these images in the practice of belief. As a result, the book argues for a fundamental reappraisal of the cultural role of the Church based on an analysis of the specific devotional and ritual contexts of Spanish art.


Handsomely illustrated essays discuss paintings, polychrome sculptures, metalwork, and books. They call attention to the paradoxical nature of the most characteristic visual forms of Spanish Catholicism: material richness and external display as expressions of internal spirituality, strict doctrinal orthodoxy accompanied by artistic expression of surprising unconventionality, the calculated social projection of new devotional themes, and the divergence of popular religious practices from officially prescribed ones. 


Ronda Kasl is senior curator of painting and sculpture before 1800 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

‘An impressive testimony to what must have been a striking exhibition…. a remarkable publication that provides an impressive survey of the rich variety of religious representations produced in Spain and Spanish America.’
-Jeremy Roe, Art and Christianity Enquiry

‘This large, well-illustrated and relatively inexpensive catalogue will reach a wider public than the exhibition could do, and thus it is a permanent and useful repository for the research carried out for the exhibition.’
-Rosa Somerville, The Art Book