French writers favoured restraint in shaping paintings and sculptures, fearing that otherwise works of art might excessively fascinate viewers with their sophisticated appearance, or might too profoundly move the emotions of the faithful. Christianity was for these writers above all a religion of the Word, and they considered images merely as a pastoral aid intended for ‘simpletons’ who either could not read or were unable to grasp the teachings of the catechism or the message of simple homilies. So, these writers approached religious art with reservations. Yielding to the above theoretical assumptions, the makers of religious art in seventeenth-century France achieved a high level of workmanship, characterized by noble simplicity and purity, only to succumb to the banality of schematic solutions in the following century, as they were unwilling to exert themselves in a domain that was becoming increasingly disregarded by the elites.
- Important study about the dispute about religious art in France from ca. 1500-1800
- The impact of theoretical discussions on the production of religious art in France in the Early Modern Period