WomenArt

Reassessing the Roles of Women as ""Makers"" of Medieval Art and Architecture

WomenArt

This study addresses the question of medieval women's participation in the production and consumption of art and architecture. As patrons and facilitators, producers and artists, owners and recipients, women's overall involvement in the process is investigated within specific social and political contexts, examining interactions and collaborations (or confrontations) with men. A new point of departure will be to refocus on the terminology used in the Middle Ages, particularly the verb 'to make'. For artist and patron is a false dichotomy, or, at the least, a modern one. The verb employed most often in medieval inscriptions from paintings to embroideries to buildings is 'made' (fecit). This word denotes at times the individual whose hands produced the work, but it can equally refer to the person whose donation made the undertaking possible. Whereas today's eye separates patron from artist, the medieval view recognized both as makers. A most challenging aspect of this project comes from its transverse nature as a study of Christian, Islamic, Jewish and secular works. Just as these cultures were interrelated in the Middle Ages, to understand them today they must be examined as part of an overall milieu. What I propose is a new way of thinking about the history of art and architecture from the Middle Ages, one that does not automatically assume it to be by and for men but recognizes the contributions of women while situating them firmly within their historical contexts.
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