Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture

October 2017
4 colour, 43 black and white illustrations
216 pages
24x17 cm
Boydell Studies in Medieval Art and Architecture
ISBN: 9781783272501
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BIC ACK, 1D, 2AB, 3H
BISAC ART015030, ART026000, HIS037010

Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture

Representations from France, c.1100-1500

Marian Bleeke

An examination of women as mothers in medieval French sculpture.
What can medieval sculptural representations of women tell us about medieval women's experiences of motherhood? Presumably the work of male sculptors, working for clerical patrons, these sculptures are unlikely to have been shaped by women's maternal experiences during their production. Once produced, however, their beholders would have included women who were mothers and potential mothers, thus opening a space between the sculptures' intended meanings and other meanings liable to be produced by these women as they brought their own interests and concerns to these works of art.
Building on theories of reception and response, this book focuses on interactions between women as beholders and a range of sculptures made in France in the twelfth through sixteenth centuries, aiming to provide insight into women's experiences of motherhood; particular sculptures considered include the Annunciation and Visitation from Reims cathedral, the femme-aux-serpents from Moissac, the transi of Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendome, the Eve from Autun, and a number of French Gothic Virgin and Child sculptures.

Marian Bleeke is Associate Professor of Art History and Chair of the Department of Art and Design at Cleveland State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture
Motherhood as Transformation: From Annunciation to Visitation at Reims
Motherhood as Monstrosity: The Moissac Femme-aux-serpents and the Transi of Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendome
Resurrecting Lazarus: The Eve from Saint-Lazare at Autun
Visualizing Parturition: Devotional Sculptures of the Virgin and Child
Afterword: Motherhood and Meaning: Medieval Sculpture and Contemporary Art

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