Mary of Mercy in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Art : Devotional image and civic emblem book cover
1st Edition

Mary of Mercy in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Art
Devotional image and civic emblem

ISBN 9780367331153
Published March 23, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages 24 Color & 83 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Mater Misericordiae—Mother of Mercy—emerged as one of the most prolific subjects in central Italian art from the late thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries. With iconographic origins in Marian cult relics brought from Palestine to Constantinople in the fifth century, the amalgam of attributes coalesced in Armenian Cilicia then morphed as it spread to Cyprus. An early concept of Mary of Mercy—the Virgin standing with outstretched arms and a wide mantle under which kneel or stand devotees—entered the Italian peninsula at the ports of Bari and Venice during the Crusades, eventually converging in central Italy. The mendicant orders adopted the image as an easily recognizable symbol for mercy and aided in its diffusion. In this study, the author’s primary goals are to explore the iconographic origins of the Madonna della Misericordia as a devotional image by identifying and analyzing key attributes; to consider circumstances for its eventual overlapping function as a secular symbol used by lay confraternities; and to discuss its diaspora throughout the Italian peninsula, Western Europe, and eastward into Russia and Ukraine. With over 100 illustrations, the book presents an array of works of art as examples, including altarpieces, frescoes, oil paintings, manuscript illuminations, metallurgy, glazed terracotta, stained glass, architectural relief sculpture, and processional banners.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgements

A Case Study


Chapter 1 Iconographic origins as a devotional image

  1. Pose and gesture

    1. Standing posture
    2. Extended arms
    3. Cruciform composition
    4. Flying or hovering pose
    5. Gaze, expression and demeanor

  1. Clothing

    1. Mantle and veil

    • Classical literature, law and numismatics
    • Medieval liturgy, law and seals
    • Roman and Byzantine dress
    • Roman sculpture
    • Old Testament
    • Apocryphal early life of Mary
    • Relics of Mary’s garments in Constantinople
    • Legends of visions
    • Armenian Cilicia
    • Cyprus
    • The Crusades
    • Bari
    • Venice
    • Veiling and unveiling the flesh of Christ
    • Prayers, sermons and hymns
    • Cloaks and charity in medieval hagiography

    1. Brooch
    2. Belt
    3. Hairstyles, crowns and halos

  1. Figures and objects

    1. Angels and saints
    2. Christ child
    3. Stars and ships
    4. Arrows
    5. Vessels
    6. Flowers and fruit
    7. Furniture and architecture
    8. Backgrounds and borders

  1. Formal elements

    1. Hieratic scale
    2. Architectonic space
    3. Implied light
    4. Shapes of supports

  1. Adoption by religious orders

    1. The Cistercians
    2. The Dominicans
    3. The Franciscans

  1. Related versions of Mary

    1. Madonna del Soccorso
    2. Madonna del Rosario
    3. Madonna del Popolo

Chapter 2 Virgin of Mercy as civic emblem for lay confraternities

  1. Supplicants under the cloak
  2. Lay confraternities and their emblems
  3. Architectural relief sculpture
  4. Gonfaloni
  5. Invocation against the plague

Chapter 3 Diffusion, regional styles, and adaptations

  1. Italian Peninsula

    1. The South
    2. Central Italy
    3. The North

  1. Western Europe

    1. France and England
    2. Slovenia, Austria and Germany
    3. Spain and Portugal

  1. Ukraine and Russia


Selected Bibliography

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Katherine T. Brown is Associate Professor of Art History and Museum Studies at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.