Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The body as ornament: The use of maenads in Roman interior design
by Lemmer-Webber, Morgan, M.A., Northern Illinois University, 2012, 105; 1519726
Abstract (Summary)

This study considers the history and iconographic significance of two Roman stucco reliefs in the Art Institute of Chicago's Ancient art collection. The design and composition of these little known works makes them of interest to a wider audience. However, the museum possesses extremely little information regarding their subject matter, medium, function, or provenance and they remain unpublished to date. The goal of this study is first to attempt to fill in these gaps and second, and more broadly, to open a dialogue about the current state of research on these and related images.

The difficulty in parsing these images arises from intersecting levels of ambiguity. The perplexing iconography of these works does not match easily with any known motifs; however, their imagery does share much in common with that of the maenads, the female followers of Dionysus. Their provenance is equally uncertain, with no authentication prior to the private collector who donated the reliefs to the museum. While the lack of provenance is a hurdle to understanding any artwork completely, it is particularly detrimental in the case of stucco reliefs as they were never intended to be seen outside of their original context. This study, therefore, reviews the iconographic tradition of maenads within Roman Art, and the particular issues of provenance as they pertain to stucco reliefs as a means to further understand these enigmatic reliefs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bell, Sinclair
Commitee: Quinlan, Mary, van Dijk, Ann
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Art
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 51/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Classical Studies, Ancient history
Keywords: Bacchant, Bacchus, Dionysus, Maenad, Roman, Stucco
Publication Number: 1519726
ISBN: 978-1-267-65821-0
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