Ex Voto (1888)

First edition title page (BII EXV 1888.1)

Ex Voto is a work of art history and criticism devoted to the Sacro Monte or New Jerusalem at Varallo-Sesia. In the book, published in 1888, Butler enthusiastically explores the art, sculpture and architecture of some of the 45 chapels which depict scenes from the Bible and the life of Christ, and analyses various groups of statues, with particular regard for the work of Gaudenzio Ferrari (1475-1546) and Tabachetti (1567-1615). Butler appreciated the genuine spirit and feeling of Tabachetti’s work, finding the realism of the figures very moving. He called the Journey to Calvary ‘the most astounding work that has been achieved in sculpture’.


Frontispiece - 'Il Vecchietto' by Tabachetti

Plate showing the Crucifixion by Ferrari

Plate XVII - Gaudenzio Ferrari's 'Crucifixion'

Ex Voto did much to generate interest in the Sacro Monte and promote the study of Gaudenzio Ferrari – not least thanks to its being illustrated with Butler's painstaking photographic work. Using photography to document works of art was an innovative use of the medium, and one that Butler applied effectively in subsequent works.

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