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Achim Timmermann

Of Trees and Shrines in Sixteenth-Century Transalpine Europe

The article explores the conceptual and experiential ramifications of the interplay between two categories of roadside markers, Baumbilder and Bildstöcke (‘image postsʼ), and imagined or real arboreal and vegetal environments in the south German lands of the early sixteenth century. The discussion revolves around two types of objects: firstly, contemporary depictions of landscapes in which wayside shrines are portrayed as adjuncts, emanations, and even natural products of the forest; and secondly, a number of Bildstöcke which still survive in situ and which, though carved from stone, were given markedly dendritic features in the form of roughly-hewn tree trunks, lopped-off branches, and bound-together vines. If considered together, the shrine-tree landscapes that existed only in pictorial space and those that inhabited solely the physical space of the viewer generated what may be called a common experiential horizon in which religion and nature were extensions rather than antipodes of one another.

Achim Timmermann:

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