Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 17474
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): King , Catherine.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Medieval and Renaissance Matrons, Italian-style [Women were able to commission art and architecture in fourteenth and fifteenth century Italy in a variety of ways, even if their involvement in the production of images and construction of buildings wasn’t as widespread as men’s. For instance, wealthy widows could control the making of large, public images such as funerary altarpieces, while nuns could commission artwork and buildings through convent endowments. Through their acts of patronage, these “matrons” challenged conventional expectations that women inhabit a small, private sphere. The author also analyzes how women chose to represent themselves visually within the works they commissioned. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 55, ( 1992): Pages 372 - 393.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Altarpieces Architecture- Religious Art History- General Commemoration Iconography Isabella d'Este, Wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua Monasticism Nuns Patronage, Artistic Portraits Private Sphere and Public Sphere Widows Women in Active Role
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 14- 15
  • Primary Evidence: Painting; Guariento, “Crucifixion witih donatrix, Maria Bovolina, Kneeling,” circa 1360, tempura on panel (Bassano del Grappa, Museo Civico). Painting;“Coronation of Mary with attendant saints,” 1370-1, wood panel (London, National Gallery). Commissioned by Benedic
  • Illustrations: Thirteen Figures. Figure One Guariento, “Crucifixion with donatrix, Maria Bovolina, Kneeling,” circa 1360, tempera on panel (Bassano del Grappa, Museo Civico). This large crucifix features its patroness Maria de’ Bovolini holding a rosary while kneeling at the right hand of Christ; she occupies the space in the image conventionally reserved for a male donor or spectator. Figure Two Guariento, “Crucifixion with donatrix, Maria Bovolina, Kneeling,” circa 1360, tempera on (Bassano del Grappa, Museo Civico). Detail of Maria Bovolina. Her family’s coat of arms is at the base of the cross opposite her. Figure Three “Coronation of Mary with attendant saints,” 1370-1, wood panel (London, National Gallery). Commissioned by Benedictine nuns of San Pier Maggiore in Florence for their high altar. Center panel depicts the Coronation of Mary with saints, and above in the upper tier are panels depicting the Adoration of the Shepherds and Kings, the Resurrection, the Three Marys at the Sepulchre, Ascension and Pentecost; the Trinity is at the apex. Figure Four “Fina Buzzacarina presented to the Virgin and Child by Saint John the Baptist and other saints,” late fourteenth century, tomb arch (Baptistry, Padua). Painting depicts Fina kneeling before the seated Virgin and Child; Fina takes the place of honor at the right hand of Christ, to the viewer’s left. She is surrounded by both male and female saints. Figure Five Main dome, late fourteenth century (Padua, Baptistry). Altar-chapel dome depicts Christ surrounded by the Apostles; main dome depicts Christ as Creator, surrounded by angels and saints. Figure Six Carlo Crivelli, “Virgin and Child with Saints Sebastian, Francis, and the donatrix, Oradea Becchetti,” 1491, wood (London, National Gallery). The patroness wears a widow’s dress and holds a rosary while kneeling before the Virgin and Child; although she is a small figure in the painting, the patroness is acknowledged by a large inscription at the base of the painting. Figure Seven Francesco Bonsignori, “Virgin and Child with Saints Zeno, Christopher, Jerome, and Onofrio, and the donatrix Altabella Avogaro,” 1484, tempera on canvas (Verona, Museo Civico). Instead of being placed next to the Virgin and Child within the frame of the painting itself, the patroness is portrayed as if standing in front of the frame of the painting. Figure Eight Chapel of the Annunciation, by the Church of San Michele in Isola, Venice. The chapel commissioned by Margareta Vitturi is on the left-hand corner of the church’s facade. Figure Nine Fra Angelico, “Deposition with Saints Dominic, Catherine, and the Beata Villana,” 1436, panel (Florence, Museo di San Marco,). Figure Ten San Zaccaria, Venice. Photograph shows the Church of San Zaccaria as it appears today. Figure Eleven “Design for statue of Virgil,” circa 1499, ink and paper (Paris, Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins). Drawing depicts Isabella d’Este’s plan for a sculpted monument for the poet Virgil. Figure Twelve Andrea Mantegna, “Minerva chases the Vices from the garden of Virtue,” 1502 (Paris, Louvre). On the right is the prison of the mother of Virtue; in foreground the vices stand in a pond while Minerva (holding a shield) and Diana drive them from the garden. Fortitude, Justice, and Temperance are depicted as female personifications looking down on the scene from heaven. Figure Thirteen San Paolo alle Monache, Parma. Photograph gives an aerial view of the church.
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  • Abstract:
  • Author's Affiliation:
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1992.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00442992