Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 2842
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Hull , Vida J.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Sex of the Savior in Renaissance Art: The Revelations of Saint Bridget and the Nude Christ Child in Renaissance Art [Bridget's description of the nude Christ child at the Nativity, written during the fourteenth century, had a strong influence on fifteenth century visual representations of the Christ child, who was often depicted as naked infant with genitals in open view. The exposure of the Christ child's penis is a moment of revelation that displays His gender and also exemplifies His humanity. This was a common motif in the Brigittine scenes of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Shepherds, but was later transferred into other contexts, such as the Adoration of the Magi and devotional images of the Virgin and Child. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Studies in Iconography 15, ( 1993): Pages 77 - 112.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Painting Bridget of Sweden, Saint- Revelationes Sanctae Birgittae Eroticism Gender Genitals, Display of Iconography Infants Jesus Christ- Birth Jesus Christ- Humanity of Jesus Christ in Art Jesus Christ- Infancy Mary, Virgin, Saint in Art Nat
  • Geographic Area: General
  • Century: 14- 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations: Twenty Three Figures. Figure One "Adoration of the Shepherds," woodcut from "Boek der Episteln und Evangelien," 1492, and Saint Brigitta, "Revelations," 1496 (Luebeck, Poppy Printer). Mary and Joseph, attended by three Shepherds, kneels over the Christ child, who lies naked in a manger (His genitalia are not exposed). Figure Two Sebastiano del Piombo, "Adoration of the Shepherds," early sixteenth century (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum). As three Shepherds approach, Mary and Joseph kneel before the Christ child, who lies on the ground swaddled in a ~~loincloth. Figure Three Jacopo Bassano, "Adoration of the Shepherds," sixteenth century (Bassano del Grappa, Museo e Biblioteca Civici). Mary lifts a the swaddling cloth off from the Christ child, whose nudity (but not penis) is exposed. Joseph and the Shepherds attend the scene as do four Angels in the heavens. Figure Four Jacopo Bassano, "Adoration of the ~~Shepherds," sixteenth century (Rome, Galleria Corsini). Mary lifts a the ~~swaddling cloth off from the Christ child, whose nudity (but not penis) is exposed. Joseph and the Shepherds attend the scene. Figure Five Jacopo Bassano (copy), "Adoration of the Shepherds," sixteenth century (Rome, Galleria Borghese). Mary removes the loincloth from the Christ child and reveals his genitalia. Joseph, three Shepherds, and animals look on. Figure Six Domenico Campagnola, "Adoration of the Shepherds," seventeenth century drawing (Paris, Louvre Museum). Mary and Joseph kneel before the nude Christ child whose genitalia are partially exposed. Three Shepherds approach the scene from the right. Figure Seven Giorgio Clovio, "Adoration of the Shepherds," sixteenth century illustration from the Farnese Hours ~~(New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.69, fol. 26v). Mary lifts up a cloth to reveal the naked Christ child, exposing his genitalia. Joseph, Shepherds, and Angels attend the scene. Figure Eight Tintoretto, "Adoration of the Shepherds," sixteenth century (Venice, Scuola di San Rocco). Mary, kneeling alongside Joseph, lifts a swaddling cloth to reveal the Christ child to the approaching Shepherds. The Christ child's face is turned away from the viewer and His body cannot be seen. Figure Nine El Greco, "Adoration of the Shepherds," seventeenth century (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1905). Mary, kneeling beside Joseph, lifts the swaddling cloth away from the Christ child to reveal His nude body (including genitalia) to the Shepherds and Angels. Figure Ten El Greco, "Adoration of the Shepherds," seventeenth century (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of George Blumenthal, 1941). Mary, kneeling beside Joseph, lifts the swaddling cloth away from the Christ child to reveal His nude body (including genitalia) to the Shepherds and Angels. Figure Eleven ~~Bartolome Esteban Murillo, "Adoration of the Shepherds," seventeenth century (Madrid, Museo del Prado). Mary lifts the loincloth to reveal the nude Christ child (genitalia obscured) to the adoring Shepherds. Figure Twelve Hugo van der Goes, "Adoration of the Shepherds," late fifteenth century (Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie). Mary and Joseph, attended by numerous ~~Shepherds and Angels, kneel with clasped hands before the nude Christ child, who lies in the manger before them with His body (including genitalia) fully exposed to the viewer. On the far left and right ends of ~~the painting, two men draw curtains away from the manger to expose the Nativity scene to the viewer. Figure Thirteen Hugo van der Goes, "Adoration of the Shepherds," late fifteenth century (Wilton House Wiltshire, Earl of Pembroke Collection). Mary, with hands crossed over her chest, gazes down at the nude Christ child in the manger in front of her. Joseph, Shepherds, and Angels with clasped hands gaze at the naked infant, whose genitalia are ~~partially exposed to the viewer. Figure Fourteen Hugo van der Goes, "Adoration of the Shepherds," late fifteenth century (Bath, Victoria Art Gallery). Mary holds the Christ child in her hands, lifting the swaddling ~~cloth to reveal the nude infant to an adoring Shepherd kneeling before Him. The Christ child's genitalia are obscured from view by His left leg. Figure Fifteen Martin Schongauer, "Adoration of the Shepherds," late fifteenth century (Frankfurt am Main, Staetlische Galerie, Staedelisches ~~Kunstinstitut). Mary kneels in the manger with hands clasped across her chest, gazing down at the nude Christ child, who lies fully exposed to the viewer. Three Shepherds gaze upon the Christ child from outside the manger. Figure Sixteen Gerard David, "Adoration of the Magi," circa 1500 (Munich, Alte Pinakothek). Mary, attended by Joseph, holds the Christ child on her ~~lap while lifting the loincloth away to reveal the nude infant (fully exposed) to the kneeling Kings. Figure Seventeen Jacopo Bassano, "Adoration of the Magi," sixteenth century (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum). Mary cradles the Christ child on her lap while lifting away the swaddling cloth to reveal the infant's nude body (fully exposed) to an adoring King. The King kneels on hands and knees to gaze closely at the infant's genital region. Figure Eighteen Bartolome Esteban Murillo, "Adoration of the Magi," seventeenth century (Toledo, Ohio, Museum of Art). Mary lifts the loincloth away to reveal the nude Christ child (fully exposed) to a King who kneels immediately before Him. The King gazes directly into the infant's genital ~~region. Figure Nineteen Sebastiano del Piombo, "Madonna of the Veil," early ~~sixteenth century (Naples, Capodimonte, Gallerie Nazionali). The Virgin lifts a large veil away from the body of the sleeping Christ child, revealing his nude body (fully exposed) which lies sprawled out before the ~~viewer. Figure Twenty Lorenzo Lotto, "Holy Family with Saint Catherine," ~~sixteenth century (Bergamo, Academia Carrara). Joseph, attended by Mary and ~~Saint Catherine, lifts a veil away from the sleeping Christ child to reveal the infant's nude body (fully exposed) to the adoring saint (and the viewer). Mary's right hand gestures toward the genital area of the ~~infant's body. Figure Twenty One Titian, "Pesaro Madonna and Child with Saints," sixteenth century (Venice, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari). Mary and Joseph are seated before a grand building with two large columns, attended by Saints and Angels. Mary holds the standing Christ child on her knee, the infant's genitalia fully exposed to the viewers. Figure Twenty ~~Two Lorenzo Lotto, "Madonna and Child with Saints," sixteenth century (Bergamo, Santo Spirito). Mary, attended by Saints and Angels, sits upon an lavish throne with the Christ child sitting upon her lap. The Christ child is naked and the Virgin's left hand points in the direction of the infant's ~~genital region. Figure Twenty Three Titian, "Holy Family with Shepherd," sixteenth century. Mary, seated next to Joseph and a Shepherd, holds the Christ child with her left hand with her right hand extended over the infant's body, her fingers gesturing toward the infant's genital region.
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  • Author's Affiliation: East Tennessee State University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1993.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 01481029
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