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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 1118: Flowers, Gourds, and Green Men: Theology and Symbolism in Medieval Art

Wednesday 6 July 2016, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Julian Gardner, Department of the History of Art, University of Warwick
Paper 1118-aThe Green Man, the Misericord, and Death of the Wilderness in the Monastic Choir
(Language: English)
Paulette Barton, Department of Modern Languages & Classics / Department of History, University of Maine
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Ecclesiastical History, Folk Studies, Monasticism
Paper 1118-bThe Virgin in the Garden: From Earthly Delights to Divine Music
(Language: English)
Laura-Cristina Stefanescu, Department of Music, University of Sheffield
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Music, Theology
Paper 1118-cJonah and the Gourd: Symbolic Flora in Quattrocento Ferrara
(Language: English)
Claudia Wardle, School of Modern Languages & Cultures, Durham University
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Theology

Paper -a:
The green man is a constant folkloric image incorporated into the misericord of the monastic and secular choir. He represents the wilderness of folklore and the life of Christ. In this paper I will discuss the aging of the Green Man into a memory of folklore and the demise of the wilderness as an emulation of Christ within the monastic confines. With the death of the Green Man the wilderness is conquered, and the emulation of Christ through meditation on the Green Man becomes an ideal of the monastic past.

Paper -b:
In the Marian cult, the sacred and the secular have often been interspersed, giving birth to hybrid forms such as polyphonic Mass settings derived from mundane love songs (see e.g. Rothenberg 2011). This paper intends to show that a similar connection between the two realms can be found in Italian paintings (c. 1420-1540) that place the Virgin in a garden surrounded by musical angels. By analyzing the theological background that links the Virgin to the Song of Songs and the musical associations that connect her to the idea of courtly love, this paper will argue that the iconography of the Virgin in the garden represents a visual counterpart to sacred appropriations and interpretations of secular songs.

Paper -c:
The idiosyncratic nature of Quattrocento Ferrarese painting has by no means gone unnoticed, the cause for much intrigue coming simply from the school's diversion from many of the traditionally conceived aesthetics of 15th-century Italy. The preeminent artist of this singular movement, Cosmè Tura, flourished under the aegis of the Este Court, letting rich allegory pervade his work. Some attempts have been made toward decrypting the symbolic flora and fauna, but this paper will offer a more profound theological analysis - refining and correcting some established suppositions - of the fruit and vegetable iconography so particular to his complex Christian scenes. This is crucial not only to comprehending Ferrarese humanism, but also to bridging the gap between the northern Italian visual arts and the Netherlandish Renaissance.