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October 08, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

SAVING GRACES by David Robinson (W. W. Norton: $14.95, unpaginated; paperback original). Robinson christened the 19th-Century allegorical female figures he photographed in European cemeteries "Saving Graces." Producing these marble or bronze representations of grief apparently kept an entire corps of sculptors busy throughout the century. Rippling marble draperies emphasize, rather than conceal the voluptuous forms of the maidens and emphasize the link between beauty and death that would characterize the Symbolist and Art Nouveau movements. Half-shrouded in decades of soot, their graceful forms spark eerie but intriguing reflections on the image of the femme fatale and Western ideas about both women and death.

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