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Women’s Books? Gendered Piety and Patronage in Late Medieval Bohemian Illuminated Codices

McCann, Allison (2020) Women’s Books? Gendered Piety and Patronage in Late Medieval Bohemian Illuminated Codices. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The manuscripts forming the core of this dissertation’s four case studies are some of the most artistically ambitious and theologically rich books to emerge from fourteenth-century Bohemia—and the European Middle Ages broadly—but they have not yet been considered together as an art historical phenomenon. Made at a moment when aristocratic women were playing a new role as divine matriarchs, these complicated and dynamic manuscripts open new avenues of inquiry into the intersection of later medieval gender and patronage. The pictorial programs of these manuscripts visualize the agency of their patrons, owners, and subjects in challenging and expansive ways and enrich our understanding of late medieval devotional practice and art production in the broadest terms.

Each of the four case studies centers on a group of objects, people, and geographies that have often been pushed to the periphery of medieval manuscript studies, building upon pivotal investigations first put forward in the 1980s and 90s by a new wave of inquiry into the visual culture of late medieval women’s mysticism. The first case-study chapter considers the richly illustrated manuscripts of Queen Elizabeth Richeza and recuperates Richeza’s role as an influential art patron through a close look at twelve vibrant donor portraits found within her manuscript corpus. The Passional of Abbess Kunigunde is the focus of the second case study, which unpacks the manuscript’s illustrated dedicatory page and the ways it subverts expectations about male–female monastic relationships and traditional scholarly assumptions about Kunigunde’s interventions in the manufacture and use of her Passional. The third case study, which focuses on the Hedwig Codex, investigates why male patrons commissioned works of art for and about women. The fourth and final case study considers the so-called Krumlov Picture-Codex—a manuscript whose origins are contested in modern scholarship—and explores the interpretive potential of assigning both a female patron and user to the manuscript. Together, these case studies demonstrate that works of art ostensibly made for or about women were used by both women and men to assert political ambitions, establish hereditary power, and claim a place in heaven.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McCann, Allisonajm224@pitt.eduajm224
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFozi,
Committee MemberNygren,
Committee MemberMcCloskey,
Committee MemberBlumenfeld-Kosinski,
Committee MemberLinduff,
Date: 16 January 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 December 2019
Approval Date: 16 January 2020
Submission Date: 5 December 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 188
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: patronage gender Bohemia manuscripts
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 19:06
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 19:06


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