Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communities of Renaissance Italy

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9780521811880: Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communities of Renaissance Italy

Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communitites of Renaissance Italy is the first systematic study of the function, character, and commissions of art created and used in conventual communities. Anabel Thomas challenges the received assumptions about art works in religious establishments populated by women, among them, that such communities contained few works of art; that these works did not have gender-specific qualities; and that religious women played no role in commissioning such imagery or in influencing its design and purpose. Through case studies, she establishes that in fact artistic imagery did figure prominently in conventual communities and she also identifies its various institutional roles. Based on archival findings that are published here for the first time, Thomas' groundbreaking study contributes to a growing literature that reexamines the role and influence of gender on religious imagery in the early modern period.

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Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communities of Renaissance Italy is the first systematic study of the function, character, and commissions of art in conventual communities. Anabel Thomas challenges assumptions about art works in religious establishments populated by women, among them, that such communities contained few works of art; that these works did not have gender-specific qualities; and that religious women played no role in commissioning such imagery or in influencing its design and purpose. Thomas's groundbreaking study examines the role and influence of gender on religious imagery in the early modern period.

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"...she presents a fascinating discussion of the interrelations between art, space, ritual, and female religious in Renaissance Italy, demonstrating the key role of visual images in conventual environments and women's active engagement with them." Renaissance Quarterly

"It is doubtful that anyone knows more about the art, architecture, devotional practices, economics, social realities, and complexities of life in and around Renaissance convents in Tuscany and Umbria than Anabel Thomas. She has scoured archives, devoured the considerable and growing bibliography on individual convents and monuments, and most importantly, entered conventual spaces that have been sorely neglected and at times even off-limits to previous art historians. In doing so, she has uncovered a familiar but novel universe: a genuine women's world that was not always sealed off from secular society as neatly as reformers and preachers would have liked, but which few historians and antiquarians had the privilege of entering." Sixteenth Century Journal Gary M. Radke, Syracuse University

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