Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 10403
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Whitaker , Muriel.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Artists' Ideal Griselda
  • Source: Sovereign Lady: Essays on Women in Middle English Literature.  Edited by Muriel Whitaker.  Garland Publishing, 1995.  Pages 85 - 114.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Essay
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- General Chaucer, Geoffrey, Poet- Canterbury Tales- Clerk's Tale Griselda (Literary Figure) Women in Art
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 13, 18- 19
  • Related Resources: "Muriel Whitaker's contribution, "The Artists' Ideal Griselda," concentrates on the reception of Griselda in later centuries. This is seen in artistic representations of the heroine produced by artists from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. The author first takes note of the visual aspects of Chaucer's narrative. Instead of describing Griselda's physical features, the Clerk praises her virtuous beauty, her patience, her steadfastness, her kindness to her aging father. She is seen in actions representative of peasant life: spinning, drawing water, tending animals. Whitaker asserts that the images associated with these occupations have an allegorical resonance in that they are also appear in descriptions of the Virgin Mary. The imagery of Griselda's investiture as Walter's bride is also biblical in nature; here the author cites Psalms 45:9 and 21:3. Griselda did not make an appearance in British narrative art until the eighteenth century. The first painting of "The Clerk's Tale" was done by Angelica Kauffman, sometime before 1785. Charles Henry Cope chose the subject for a fresco he was commissioned to paint in Westminster Palace in 1846. Alfred Elmore and F. G. Stephens produced oil paintings of Griselda in the mid-nineteenth century. Whitaker's description and analysis of each painting is very detailed and presents a clear understanding of the figure in each work. She then describes three sculptures of Griselda fashioned by three different artists in the second half of the century. Six photographs of these art works are included at the end of the essay providing a clear illustration of how the Clerk's patient Griselda was visualized in later centuries." From the review written by Elizabeth Walsh of "Sovereign Lady," "Medieval Review" (TMR ID: 96.12.11). [Reproduced by permission of the "Medieval Review."].
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations:
  • Table: Reproductions of three paintings and three statues representing Griselda. One painting dates from the late eighteenth- century; all the rest are nineteenth- century.
  • Abstract:
  • Author's Affiliation:
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1995.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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