The art of faith in a world of progress : from transcendence to immanence
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This thesis examines what the visual art of Christian faith might reveal, and teach us, about the living art of faith in a world characterised by progress. The argument focuses on two prominent visual artists from the nineteenth century - William McTaggart (1835-1910) and William Dyce (1806 – 1864) - and two late twentieth century painters: Andy Goldsworthy (b. 1956) and Peter Howson (b. 1958). The principal contribution then, of the thesis is the sustained analysis of works of art as sites of religious meaning; works that do not simply reflect or echo their contexts (although this is clearly the case) but also, through the particular, may transform our understanding of those contexts and, in terms of the art of faith, may prophetically offer new ways of relating to faith in times in which faith is challenged in various ways. After setting the scene with a substantial treatment of the tensions in Victorian society (Chapter 1), the thesis then builds its arguments through close interpretations of the works of William McTaggart (Chapter 2) and William Dyce (Chapter 3) in the central part of the thesis. In Chapter 4, the argument moves to the contemporary. After a short introduction to the secularism, or unattached belief, arguably characteristic of modern Britain (4.1), the thesis presents a close analysis of Andy Goldsworthy (4.2) and Peter Howson (4.3). In the conclusion, I set up a comparison between these two contemporary Scottish artists and their Victorian forbears.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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