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A Reservoir of Ideas: Essays in Honour of Paul Williamson

A Reservoir of Ideas: Essays in Honour of Paul Williamson


An invaluable reference for all those interested in the history of sculpture and medieval art. This lavishly illustrated volume is a celebratory tribute to the leading scholar and curator Paul Williamson, formerly Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 


This rich collection of over twenty fully illustrated essays covers an array of medieval topics, with a particular emphasis on sculpture. The contributors, all friends and colleagues of the dedicatee, are prominent experts in their different fields, from the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. The wide range of subjects covered includes ivories, wood carvings, alabaster, architectural sculpture, caskets, reliquaries, and questions of imagery and iconography. With a full scholarly apparatus, A Reservoir of Ideas is an invaluable work of reference.


The volume celebrates the museum career and scholarship of Paul Williamson, a scholar and curator whose outstanding contribution to art history continues to expand and inspire the study of sculpture in general and medieval art in particular. Williamson joined the V&A in 1979 as one of the youngest curators ever appointed. He took over as Chief Curator in 1989, and he was Director of the Collections from 2004-07, and Acting Deputy Director in 2013. During his 36-year career at the V&A he wrote 17 books and over 150 articles. Williamson’s profound experience and expertise as a curator at the V&A have both enhanced his own well-deserved reputation as the leading expert in the study of European sculpture, and simultaneously enriched the standing and holdings of the collections themselves. The works acquired during his time at the V&A, and the gallery displays that he either oversaw or curated himself, amply demonstrate his tremendous range of knowledge and appreciation of art. Despite his wide-ranging expertise and enthusiasm for the art of all periods, it seems fitting that this volume is devoted to medieval art, and primarily to sculpture - the works of art that undoubtedly lie closest to his heart. It is a testament to his standing at the pinnacle of medieval studies that so many leading experts have eagerly contributed to this exceptional collection.

  • Edited by Glyn Davies and Eleanor Townsend

    May 2017

    Hardback, 287 x 247 mm

    292 pages, 200 colour illus.
    ISBN: 978 1 911300 16 8

  • Contributors

    Élisabeth Antoine, Peter Barnet, Julien Chapuis, John Cherry, Anthony Cutler, Glyn Davies, Danielle Gaborit-Chopin, Julian Gardner, Sarah M. Guérin, Colum Hourihane, Charles T. Little, Richard Marks, Peta Motture, Lawrence Nees, Valentino Pace, Neil Stratford, Élisabeth Taburet-Delahaye, Dagmar Täube, Eleanor Townsend, Marjorie Trusted, Hiltrud Westermann-Angerhausen, Kim Woods, Catherine Yvard

  • In the press

    "A stunning reference point for the latest work in the field. Opening its pages is like entering some glittering Medieval treasury, a fine celebration of the cosmopolitan range of its industrious and highly regarded dedicatee." —The Art Newspaper 


    "A particularly attractive and lavishly illustrated collection ... thoughtful and engaging ... a remarkable compendium of studies on medieval works of art in different media ... a valuable contribution to scholarship." 
    The Burlington


    "Handsomely produced ... the breadth of subjects covered, the sumptuous color photographs, and typically crisp prose of the contributions make this volume a delight to read." —Medieval Review 


    "Few books produced in recent years can match the intellectual scope and physical beauty of this volume. Its twenty-one essays explore topics in medieval art history with rigour, and its colour photographs present an extraordinary opportunity to see as well as read about the works in question. The resulting invitation to delight in and learn from precious objects is a fitting tribute for Paul Williamson, Keeper Emeritus of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass at the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose work has shed so much light on that renowned collection ... The deep sense of respect, admiration, and affection felt by the contributors, however, seems to transcend mere words, and is felt on every page of this wonderful book." —Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies


    "An invaluable and beautifully illustrated reference work … unreservedly recommended." –Midwest Book Review 

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