In The Eye and the Beholder the author singles out a topic already touched upon in her previous book, Colour in Sculpture. By raising the question of how significant the colouring of the eye is to figurative representations of the late medieval and early modern period, Hannelore Hägele examines the different solutions open to the sculptor, which vary depending on historical and cultural parameters. The created eye must suit purpose and style. She discusses a number of unusual aspects of this: sculpted eyes in antiquity; the art and craft of polychromy; partial polychromy; emotions and expressions; the gaze and the glance; from the sculpted eye to colour and the glass eye; and what the eye cannot see. Dr Hägele asks whether advances in optics and other sciences, or theological concepts such as the eye of God and the inner eye, determined the way in which eyes were perceived and represented. It is the beholder, whether as maker or viewer, who engages with and judges the worth of any creative effort and what it contributes to an understanding of the seen and the unseen. The illustrations and the many coloured plates accompanying the text offer an overview of the subject.
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After training in sculpture in Paris, Stuttgart and London, Hannelore Hägele studied Art History and Philosophy at UCL. Several years in secondary education were followed by return to university and a PhD. She was elected to a post-doctoral research fellowship at Wolfson College, Cambridge. This is her second major study.