Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 18027
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Camille , Michael.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Gothic Signs and the Surplus: The Kiss on the Cathedral [The kiss was a sign with many meanings, and its symbolic significance in medieval visual and verbal representations is manifold. A sculpture on the West Front of Amiens Cathedral depicts the sin of lechery through the image of a man and woman kissing, yet the kiss did not always stand in for representations of sexual intercourse (legitimate or illicit). The kiss could have spiritual and allegorical significance (e.g., visual representations of the Song of Songs), legal force (e.g., feudal and courtly rituals), treacherous or transgressive overtones (e.g., representations of Judas and Christ or other same-sex couples kissing), mystical meanings, or devotional purposes (e.g., the kiss of peace). Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source URL: Yale French Studies (Full Text via JSTOR) (1991): 151-170. Special Editions: Style and Values in Medieval Art and Literature.Link Info target = '_blank'>Yale French Studies (Full Text via JSTOR) (1991): 151-170. Special Editions: Style and Values in Medieval Art and Literature.Link Info
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Adultery Amiens, Picardie, France- Cathedral Architecture- Religious Art History- General Cathedrals Courtly Customs Desire Gesture in Art Homoeroticism Homosexuality in Art Iconography Image Imagery Kisses in Literature Law Ritual Sexuality Social Histor
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 12-14
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  • Illustrations: Fourteen Figures. Figure One Sculpture represents the vice of Luxuria (lechery) through the motif of a man and woman kissing (West Front of Amiens Cathedral, France, thirteenth century). Figure Two Manuscript Illumination depicts a tonsured monk kissing a woman in front of a table with a rich array of food. A devil in the upper left corner touches the monk’s shoulder. From Guillaume le Clerc’s “Bestiaire Divin,” MS Fr. 14969, fol. 22v (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris). Figure Three Initial to Aristotle’s “De Generatione” depicts a man and woman embracing. From thirteenth-century MS. Lat. 12953 fol. 166r (Biblotheque Nationale, Paris). Figure Four Initial to Averroes’s commentary on Aristotle’s Physics depicts a man and woman embracing. The woman wears nuptial bands and two hands from heaven bring the couple together. From MS. Lat. 6505, fol. 132v (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris). Figure Five Tympanum depicts several figures disputing, a man fighting a dragon, and a couple kissing (twelfth century, Musee Saint Remi, Reims). Figure Six Initial to the Song of Songs in a thirteenth-century Bible depicts a male and female head in close proximity. The male holds his hand on the female’s cheek and kisses her on the lips. From Royal MS. I. B. XII fol. 208r (British Library, London). Figure Seven Manuscript Illustration depicts a kissing couple. The woman, on the right, makes a pointing gesture and her face overlaps the man’s. From the margin of “La Estoire de Seinte Aedward le Rei,” MS E.e.3.59 fol. 3r (Cambridge University Library). Figure Eight Painting depicts King Mark kissing Tristram, Cherstey Tile (British Museum, London). Figure Nine Manuscript Illumination depicts a man kneeling before a woman and a standing couple kissing. From the margins of a Psalter, MS. Lat. 10435 fol. 44r (Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris). Figure Ten Manuscript Illumination depicts Lancelot and Guenivere kissing, with Lancelot’s friend Galehot sitting between them. From “Lancelot du Lac,” M.805-6, fol. 67r (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York). Figure Eleven Manuscript Illumination depicts Judas leaning over to embrace Christ, who stands erect. From a Psalter, MS. K.26 fol. 18v (St. John’s College, Cambridge). Figure Twelve Manuscript Illumination of Genesis 19:1 depicts a pair of angels visiting Lot at Sodom. Below the image is an illustration of a cleric and layman kissing each other and two women embracing in front of the mouth of Hell. From the Bible Moralisee, MS. Bodleian 270b, fol. 14 (Bodleian Library, Oxford). Figure Thirteen Manuscript Illumination depicts Christ kissing his mother. From the Passional of Abbess Cunegundis, Bibl. Univ. XIV A 17 II, fol. 16v (Prague). Figure Fourteen “Concordiam in populo,” fourteenth century. Manuscript Illumination depicts a man embracing a woman. From a calendrical booklet, MS. Rawlison D. 939 (Bodleian Library, Oxford).
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  • Year of Publication: 1991.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00440078
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