The decline in representations of the Virgin as mother in early post-reformation iconography.

Stanley, Diana (2013) The decline in representations of the Virgin as mother in early post-reformation iconography. Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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As the sixteenth century drew to a close the ‘mother and child’ image of the Virgin was being replaced by the representation of ‘Mary alone’. The move away from depicting the ‘mother and child’, and particularly the nursing mother, had begun. Medieval religiosity had been characterized by a physical piety which incorporated all the senses, while at the same time using this physicality as a means of penance and suffering as in the traditions of imitatio Christi. The decline in the representation of Mary’s physical motherhood develops alongside a general growing rejection of the human body as imago Dei – and particularly the female body whose imago Dei had always been in question. Accompanying this decline in the very physical piety of the late Middle Ages was a growth in spirituality which aided and abetted both the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Restoration. This new kind of spirituality looked ‘inwards’, making much of the examination of conscience as part of the Christian salvific journey. The Council of Trent re-affirmed the sacramental nature of the Catholic Church. The new emphasis on the Sacrament of Confession illustrated the move towards an ‘interior’ piety. While the establishment of the Society of Jesus by Ignatius Loyola together with the introduction of his Spiritual Exercises, took the faithful to an interior space where visualization became the key to the transcendent. The nature of the sacred was changing, no longer associated with this world and its holy relics. Incarnational theology, which emphasized the reconciliation of the created world to God through Christ, was making way for a theology based on the eschaton. Representations of the Virgin as the ‘physical’ mother of Christ were now giving way to a more interior, passive soul, whose maternal role became eclipsed by a desire to make Mary a model of ‘humility’ and ‘obedience’ – the perfect disciple. Freed from the stain of original sin, she is now represented as the Immaculate Conception, an image that became the enduring ‘face’ of the Marian cult.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/277.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mary Blessed Virgin Saint
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
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Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2014 14:32
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2023 10:58

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