Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 33638
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Pearson , Andrea G.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Gendered Subject, Gendered Spectator: Mary Magdalen in the Gaze of Margaret of York
  • Source: Gesta 44, 1 ( 2005): Pages 47 - 66.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Active Life, Religious Ideal Devotional Literature Duchesses Finet, Nicholas, Arthur- Le Dyaloge de la Duchesse de Bourgogne a Jesus Christ Gaze Manuscripts- Ownership of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy and Wife of Charles the Bold Mary Magdalene, Saint in Art Women in Religion
  • Geographic Area: Low Countries
  • Century: 15
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence:
  • Illustrations: Seven figures. Figure One Follower of Dreux Jean, Margaret of York in Prayer before the Resurrected Christ, frontispiece to Nicholas Finet, "Le dyalogue de la duchesse de Bourgogne à Jesus Christ," circa 1477 (London, British Library, Add, MS 7970, fol. 1v). Figure Two South Netherlandish (Master of Margaret of York or workshop), Colette of Corbie Receives the Host from Christ while Henry of Baume Officiates at Mass, in Peter of Vaux, "La Vie de Sainte Colette," circa 1470-1477 (Ghent, Monasterium "Bethlehem" of the Zusters Clarissen-Coletienen, MS 8, fol. 75). Figure Three Follower of Dreux Jean, Margaret of York Undertakes the Seven Acts of Mercy, in Nicholas Finet, "Benoit seront les miséricordieux," circa 1468 (Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS 9296, fol. 1). Figure Four Dreux Jean, Girart and Odo Charge Badilus with Retrieving the Body of Mary Magdalen, from the "Roman de Girart de Roussillon," after 1448 (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2549, fol. 136v). Figure Five Dreux Jean, Badilus Removes Mary's Body from Its Sarcophagus at the Church of Saint-Maximin, from the "Roman de Girart de Roussillon," after 1448 (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2549, fol 139). Figure Six Dreux Jean, Badilus Delivers the Corpse of Mary Magdalen to Vezelay, from the "Roman de Girart de Roussillon," after 1448 (Vienna Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2549, fol 141). Figure Seven Jean Poyet, Charles VIII of France Presented to the Resurrected Christ by Mary Magdalen, from a book of hours made 1490-1495. Leaf added after circa 1510 (New York, PML, MS M. 250, fol 14).
  • Table:
  • Abstract: This paper treats the construction of gender by the consumer and producers of a devotional manual commissioned by Margaret of York (1446-1503), duchess of Burgundy. The volume, "Le dyalogue de la duchesse de Bourgogne à Jésus Christ," is embellished with a frontispiece of the "noli me tangere," which in an arrangement unprecedented in Burgundian court portraiture, depicts a living subject-Margaret- in the guise of Mary Magdalen. This essay posits that the duchess, the primary audience of the miniature, responded to it with a multilayered gaze that reflected both her own experiences as a woman and the Magdalen's complex, gendered persona. Since the text and frontispiece of the manual were produced by men, the volume provides a salient opportunity to explore the tensions that could arise when men crafted women's identities. In particular, a potentially destabilizing contradiction exists between the text and image that had the potential to undermine the duchess' piety. This negating message, however, would not have jeopardized Margaret's devotion, since she could have exercised her agency as a viewer to resist its unpalatable aspects. Such a model forwards the duchess' gaze as deeply responsive and highly authoritative, so much so that it could have circumvented, through the affirming features of the Magdalen's persona, gender biases that imperiled her political authority. [Reproduced by permission of the International Center of Medieval Art]
  • Author's Affiliation: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2005.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0016920X
  • Material/Technique :
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