The Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art  book cover
1st Edition

The Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art

ISBN 9781409422846
Published March 28, 2012 by Routledge
384 Pages

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Book Description

It is still routinely repeated that representations of the unclothed body in the Middle Ages connoted a site of corruption and sin, in contrast to a new, distinctive, humanistic and even secularizing Renaissance appreciation. But as the contributors to this collection remind us, medieval imagery that incorporated nudity was varied, complex and nuanced. It was a time-honored category of representation that viewers had been accustomed to seeing in the most sacred contexts, but also an opportunity for dissent and transgression, and thus a source of conservative consternation. This volume discloses how nudity in medieval art staged a discourse about sex and gender that informs the iconography of the nude body in Western art up to the present day; in doing so, it offers new insight into the problematic role of the nude in the larger art historical narrative. Addressing a strangely neglected key issue in the history of art, this volume engages the issue of medieval representations of the unclothed human body on theoretical grounds and in a more global way than has been done previously. The Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art breaks ground by offering a variety of approaches to explore the meanings of both male and female nudity in European painting, manuscripts and sculpture ranging from the late antique era to the fifteenth century.

Table of Contents

Contents: The meanings of nudity in medieval art: an introduction, Sherry C.M. Lindquist; The survival and reception of the classical nude: Venus in the Middle Ages, Jane C. Long; Male nudes and embodied spirituality in Romanesque sculpture, Kirk Ambrose; The naked jongleur in the margins: manuscript contexts for social meanings, Elizabeth Moore Hunt; A son's gaze on Noah: case or cause of viriliphobia?, Madeleine H. Caviness; Uncovering the meanings of nudity in the Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, Martha Easton; Pubics and privates: body hair in late medieval art, Penny Howell Jolly; Nudity as natural garment: seeing through Adam and Eve's skin, Linda Seidel; Integritas, proportio and claritas: the body in Tuscan representations of Baptism 1300-1450, Véronique Dalmasso; Christ bared: problems of viewing and powers of exposing, Corine Schleif; Sin or sexual pleasure? A little-known nude bather in a Flemish Book of Hours, Diane Wolfthal; Reconsidering the nude: Northern tradition and Venetian innovation, Paula Nuttall; Epilogue, Madeline H. Caviness; Indexes.

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Sherry C.M. Lindquist is Professor of Art History at Western Illinois University. She is the author of Agency, Visuality and Society at the Chartreuse de Champmol (2008), and editor of Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art (2012).


'... wonderful collection of articles... Mediaevistik

'As editor, Lindquist has compiled an impressive collection of essays from established and talented scholars. Their scholarship reveals multiple depictions and meanings of nudity in medieval art. Lindquist introduces the topic with a comprehensive and comprehensible overview of the historiography of medieval art, carefully developing the argument for a wider understanding of nudity in this period that encompasses an interdisciplinary approach. Each contributor builds a convincing case for Lindquist’s claim, presenting varied topics and using interdisciplinary approaches like gender studies, literary studies, and the medieval body. The result is a collection of careful and nuanced analyses of selected medieval nude case studies.' Parergon

'... an excellent collection of essays treating a wide variety of situations in which imagery of the nude plays an important role, and it should stimulate additional publications on the topic of nudity in medieval art.' Speculum

'... an excellent collection of essays, which will no doubt prove an indispensable resource for all future scholarship on representations of nudity in the Middle Ages.' Studies in Iconography