The study of funeral monuments is a growing field, but monuments erected to commemorate children have so far received little attention. Whilst the practice of erecting monuments to the dead was widespread across Renaissance Europe, the vast majority of these commemorated adults, with children generally only appearing as part of their parents' memorials. However, as this study reveals, in Poland there developed a very different tradition of funerary monuments designed for, and dedicated to, individual children - daughters as well as sons. The book consists of five major parts, which could be read in any order, though the overall sequencing is based on the premise that an understanding of the context and background will enhance a reading of these fascinating child monuments. Consequently, there is a progression of knowledge presented from the broader context of the earlier parts, towards the final parts where the actual child monuments are discussed in detail. Thus the book begins with an overview of the wider cultural contexts of funerary monuments and where children fitted into this. It then moves on to to look at the 'forgotten Renaissance' of central Europe and specifically the situation in Poland. The middle part addresses the 'culture of memory', examining the role of funerary monuments in reinforcing social, religious and familial continuity. The last parts deal with the physical monuments: empirical data, iconography and iconology. Through this illuminating consideration of children's monuments, the book raises a host of fascinating questions relating to Polish social and cultural life, family structure, attitudes to children and gender. It also addresses the issue of why Poland witnessed this unusual development, and what this tells us about the transmission of cultural and artistic ideas across Renaissance Europe. Drawing upon social and cultural history, visual and gender studies, the work not only asks important new questions, but provides a fresh perspective on some familiar topics and themes within Renaissance history.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Part I Context: Shifting the Boundaries, Conceptual Identities and the Social Framework: Shifting boundaries and conceptual identities; Religion in Poland: 'a state without stakes'; Society; Summary part I. Part II Locating a Forgotten Renaissance: Borders, boundaries and barriers; Processes of Renaissance reception in Poland; Pathways of dissemination of artistic motifs: the putto and skull; Summary part II. Part III Culture of Death: In Memoria: Death and commemoration; Death and the child; Summary part III. Part IV The Monumental Body of the Renaissance Child: The monumental body of the Renaissance child: trends and patterns; The monumental body of the Renaissance child: the changing putto; The monumental body of the Renaissance child: other forms of visual presentation; Summary part IV. Part V The Polish Putto-and-Skull: Iconography and Iconology: The Polish putto-and-skull: iconographic layers of significance; The Polish putto-and-skull: rudiments of laughter, grotesque bodies and mythic boundaries; Conclusions; Catalogue; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
Jeannie Labno is an independent art historian specialising in early modern art and culture of Central/Eastern Europe. She has published a number of papers, and the University of Warsaw has recently published the proceedings of an international conference she organised in 2007 at the University of Sussex: East Meets West at the Crossroads of Early Modern Europe.
’... this is a valuable contribution to the literature on the commemoration of children, and should be read by all who are interested in early modern commemoration.’ Church Monuments 'Jeannie Åabno’s multifaceted effort offers more than a standard art history perspective on a heretofore sparsely analyzed niche of peripheric Renaissance art. At its core the book distorts the entire center-periphery paradigm, embracing a model of pan-European Renaissance artistic receptiveness that is more a creative dialogue between two geographical points than a strict lecture from one to the other.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Commemorating the Polish Renaissance Child is a fascinating, engrossing study, which also presents a panoramic view of the Polish Renaissance, and Labno has the ability to shift from a specific to a more general perspective with ease. Her native familiarity with the subject and her ability to maintain a scientific, dispassionate distance, is an unquestionable merit of this work.' European History Quarterly 'With this fascinating book, Jeannie Åabno, drawing on a set of such traditions, but also on scholarly traditions of essentially different origin, has taken the first difficult step to open the communication in a new field. Others will hopefully follow.' Childhood in the Past 'Åabno’s book is important to the study of the early modern period in two ways. First, it highlights the profound diffusion and adaptation of the Renaissance in central and eastern Europe. ... Secondly, Åabno’s work is an important contribution to our understanding of childhood in the early modern period.' Sixteenth Century Journal