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David Stephenson
Visions of Heaven: The Dome in European Architecture
Princeton Architectural Press 2005
279mm x 292mm, hardcover, 192 pp
$120 rrp

There's an ethereal magic to standing beneath a dome, neck craned, looking up at a vision of the heavens created by some long-ago figure of genius. From the Pantheon to the Hagia Sophia, the power of the dome seems transcendent. Photographer David Stephenson's magnificently kaleidoscopic images of dome interiors capture this evanescent drama, and make Visions of Heaven one of the most spectacularly beautiful books we've ever produced.

Travelling from Italy to Spain, Turkey, England, Germany, and Russia, among other countries, and photographing churches, palaces, mosques, and synagogues from the second to the early twentieth century, Stephenson's work amounts to a veritable typology of the cupola. His images present complex geometrical structures, rich stucco decorations, and elaborate paintings as they have never been seen before. Brilliantly calibrated exposures reveal details and colours that would otherwise remain hidden in these dimly lit spaces.

Visions of Heaven shows more than 120 images, including the Roman Pantheon, the Byzantine churches of Turkey, the great domes of the Renaissance, the decorative cupolas of the Baroque and the Rococo ages, and a nineteenth-century synagogue in Hungary. An informative essay by Victoria Hammond traces the fascinating history of the dome and its decoration, while Keith F. Davis examines Stephenson’s work in the context of the idea of the sublime, creating a rich context for viewing these remarkable photographs.

David Stephenson is an artist and coordinator of
research and postgraduate programs at the
University of Tasmania School of Art. His
photographs have been exhibited widely and are
represented in many private and public collections
throughout the world.

Victoria Hammond is an art historian and author
of many publications, including Letters from St.
Petersburg
.

Keith F. Davis is the Hallmark Fine Art Programs
Director and the author of many books on
photography, including An American Century of
Photography
and The Art of Frederick Sommer.