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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Advocata nostra: Central Italian paintings of Mary as the second Eve, c. 1335–c. 1445
by Dunlop, Anne, Ph.D., University of Warwick (United Kingdom), 1997, 338; 3382264
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis is a close examination and analysis of the creation and reception of a group of eighteen Central Italian paintings of the Madonna with Eve presented reclining at her feet, images which draw on one of the fundamental themes of Mary's cult, her role as the Second Eve.

Modern writers have sometimes been taken aback by these panels; in recent studies of women in history, Mary and Eve are often assumed to have been defining stereotypes of positive and negative feminine behaviour, and these works make a blatant juxtaposition of the two. Yet this imagery was obviously attractive to Trecento and Quattrocento patrons: this paradox lies at the heart of this thesis, which seeks to determine what these paintings might have meant to those who commissioned them and who first worshipped before them.

To do so, this thesis begins by introducing the questions raised by the works; it then discusses textual and oral traditions linking Mary and Eve for Trecento and Quattrocento viewers, in order to suggest a range of possible associations for the imagery. There are then four case studies, intended to particularise the general themes of the pairing through specific images and contexts. The first focuses on Ambrogio Lorenzetti's frescoes at the former Cistercian abbey of S. Galgano, which were created, it is suggested here, by a member of that community in Mary's honour. The next chapter looks at the political and eschatological implications of images of Mary's rule as the Second Eve in the Papal States, discussing frescoes in S. Agostino, Montefalco, S. Gregorio Maggiore, Spoleto, and the Camposanto in Pisa, as well as a panel attributed to Carlo da Camerino, now in Cleveland, Ohio. The following chapter examines the 1371 Madonna of Graces in Magione, near Perugia, and the knightly devotion of its secular, aristocratic donor, who is here identified; the detached fresco from S. Severino Marche is also briefly mentioned. And the final chapter focuses on the only image securely linked to a female religious community, Lippo Vanni's 1358 triptych for the Dominican nuns of Sant'Aurea in Rome, which offers a basis for examining the complicated question of female viewership for images of Mary and Eve.

Together, these studies allow a series of wider conclusions to be drawn about these paintings, including some of the smaller panels not discussed in depth in the main text. In conclusion, it is argued that these images of Eve at Mary's feet provided different groups of Trecento and Quattrocento Christians with a positive way in which to stress their own human weakness, encouraging Mary to intercede on their behalf, as she had done, first and foremost, for Eve.

There is also an appendix providing additional information on those Sienese, Lucchese, and Florentine panels less discussed in the main body of the text.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gardner, Julian
School: University of Warwick (United Kingdom)
School Location: England
Source: DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Art history, Medieval history, Gender studies
Keywords: Eve, History of theology, Italy, Lorenzetti, Ambrogio, Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint, Paintings, Sienese art, Umbrian art, Vanni, Lippo
Publication Number: 3382264
ISBN: 978-1-109-48980-4
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