Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 4810
  • Author(s)/Creator(s):
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  • Title: A Relic, Some Pictures and the Mothers of Florence in the Late Fourteenth Century
  • Source URL: Gesta (Full Text via JSTOR) 30, 2 (1991): 91-99. Link Info target = '_blank'>Gesta (Full Text via JSTOR) 30, 2 (1991): 91-99. Link Info
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Art History- Painting Belts Childbirth, Image of Clothing, Image of Devotional Objects Florence Iconography Lay Piety Madonna, Figure in Art Mary, Virgin, Saint and Child in Art Mary, Virgin, Saint- Cult Mary, Virgin, Saint- Image of Mothers in Art Prato,
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 14
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  • Illustrations: Eleven Figures. Figure One Anonymous, “Madonna Platytera,” twelfth century, Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow. Painting depicts the Christ Child in a medallion placed on the Virgin’s breast. Figure Two, “Visitation,” Gradual, first half of fourteenth century, Karlsruhe, Landesbibliothek, inv. U. H. 1, fol. 176v. Manuscript illumination depicts the pregnant Saint Elizabeth visiting the Virgin; the illustration provides a view into the Virgin’s womb where the Christ Child is reposed. Figure Three Anonymous, “Madonna della Ninna,” mid fourteenth century, Uffizi, Florence. Painting depicts a standing Madonna with one hand holding a book and her other hand placed upon her distended womb. Figure Four Follower of Nardo di Cione, “Madonna del Parto,” mid fourteenth century, Museo Bandini, Fiesole. Painting depicts the pregnant Virgin with her hand across her stomach; she wears a crown and stands on a crescent moon, and she also wears a thin cord around her waist that is tied with five knots at each end. Figure Five Master of San Martino alla Palma, “Madonna del Parto,” mid fourteenth century, Santa Maria in Campo, Florence. Painting depicts the Virgin holding a book and wearing a slender cord with five knots at each end and tied in a bow around her waist. Figure Six Taddeo Gaddi, “Madonna del Parto,” circa 1355, San Francesco di Paola, Florence. Painting depicts the Virgin holding a book and wearing a thin cord tied around her waist. Figure Seven Anonymous, “Madonna delle Virtu,” third quarter of fourteenth century, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome, inv. 520. Painting depicts the Virgin holding a book and wearing a short cord tied high around her waist; the ends of the cord are divided into two strands that are knotted together. Figure Eight Rossello di Iacopo Franchi, “Madonna del Parto,” early fifteenth century, Palazzo Davanzati, Florence. Painting depicts the Virgin wearing a long unknotted cord with tassels. Figure Nine Bettino Corsino da Prato, “Madonna del Parto,” circa 1310-20, Museo del Duomo, Prato. Panel depicts the Virgin wearing a cord that ends in a single knotted strand with a tassel at its end. Figure Ten “The Assumption of the Virgin and the Giving of the Girdle to Saint Thomas” (detail), Prato, Biblioteca Roncioniana, Cod. 85 Q III 7, fol. 1. Manuscript illumination depicts the Virgin holding a belt in her hands; it is a thin cord that is tied with knots at each end. Figure Eleven, Taddeo Gaddi, “Madonna del Parto,” circa 1355, San Francesco di Paola, Florence. Fresco depicts the Virgin in front of an archway; inscribed on the lintel of the niche containing the image are the words “Maria SS. del Parto.”
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  • Abstract: The iconography of the Madonna del Parto was established in Tuscany in the fourteenth century. An intriguing detail of some of these Madonnas is the knotted belt they wear. This paper argues that these painted belts allude to the relic of the Virgin's "Sacra Cintola" that was venerated in Prato, and that Florentine interest in the relic developed when the Florentines took control of the town in 1350-1351. A poem of 1340 relates the power of the relic to provide comfort to expectant mothers. I suggest that the several Florentine images of the Madonna del Parto wearing a simulacrum of the "Cintola," all of which date from after 1350, sustained pregnant women and their families through the pains and uncertainties of childbirth. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art.]
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  • Year of Publication: 1991.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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