Notwithstanding the wealth of material published about St Clare of Assisi (1193-1253) in the context of medieval scholarship, and the wealth of visual material regarding her, there is a dearth of published scholarship concerning her cult in the early modern period. This work examines the representations of St Clare in the Italian visual tradition from the thirteenth century on, but especially between the fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries, in the context of mendicant activity. Through an examination of such diverse visual images as prints, drawings, panels, sculptures, minor arts, and frescoes in relation to sermons of Franciscan preachers, starting in the thirteenth century but focusing primarily on the later tradition of early modernity, the book highlights the cult of women saints and its role in the reform movements of the Osservanza and the Catholic Reformation and in the face of Muslim-Christian encounter of the early modern era. Debby’s analyses of the preaching of the times and iconographic examination of neglected artistic sources makes the book a significant contribution to research in art history, sermon studies, gender studies, and theology.
Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby is Senior Lecturer in the Arts Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.
'... an exhaustive study of the cult of St. Clare in Italy from the period surrounding her canonization only two years after her death in 1253 through the late Baroque period and beyond, culminating in the modern world ...The author demonstrates tremendous erudition encompassing a wide-ranging exploration of the visual as well as textual material. The material will be important to historians of hagiography and its cultural contexts as well as to art historians interested in tracing the changing iconography of an important medieval saint into modern times.' Anita Moskowitz, Stony Brook University, USA (Emerita); author of Italian Gothic Sculpture c. 1250-1400
'... will be very useful for historians of hagiography and saints' cults, especially in the early modern period. For art historians, too, the book will be interesting when tracing changes in iconographical representations of saints over time. I hope that more studies of the visual traditions in other countries will follow where Debby has pioneered ... The ten pages of colour plates and the 51 black and white images are not only beautiful, they genuinely support the arguments made within the volume.' The History of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland
'The Cult of St Clare of Assisi in Early Modern Italy is the first full-length treatment of Italian visual traditions associated with St. Clare, and is a significant contribution to scholarship on the visual culture of early modern religiosity and to the fields of gender studies and sermon studies.' CAA Reviews
'[This] carefully produced and generously illustrated book is at least the third monograph study by Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby ... [who] exploits her expertise both as an art historian and a specialist in sermon studies, to shed a different light on the dynamic world of mendicant preaching, urban religious life and forms of cultural expression in the Renaissance period.' Archivum Franciscanum Historicum