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Nuns as artists : the visual culture of a medieval convent /
Jeffrey F. Hamburger.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1997.
xxiv, 318 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 27 cm.
0520203860 (alk. paper)
More Details
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1997.
0520203860 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Gift to Victoria University Library. Pfaff, Larry. 2009/12/15.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 293-304) and indexes.
Thomas Collection
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"Hamburger's singular discovery of a group of devotional drawings made by an anonymous nun . . . is here presented with magisterial learning, theoretical sophistication, and deep human sympathy."--V. A. Kolve, University of California, Los Angeles
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-09:
Around 1500, a nun in the Benedictine convent of St. Walburg, located in Eichst"att in Bavaria, produced an extraordinary group of devotional drawings. These colored drawings, while resembling single-sheet woodcuts in their simple outlines and somewhat crude figures, are exceptional in their content, which is not only complex but intimately connected to the pious environment of the convent. Although Hamburger's fascinating study of these drawings and other, related images and texts joins a growing number of recently published works on late medieval devotional imagery, it deals with a largely overlooked class of images: works produced by and for nuns. Hamburger (Oberlin College) clearly explains the intricate meaning of the drawings and relates them to contemporary works of literature and visual culture. While focusing on a group of little-known works, this book can serve to introduce any knowledgeable reader to the broader array of devotional images of the later Middle Ages. Well illustrated, with several striking color plates, and supplemented with informative notes and bibliography. Highly recommended for faculty and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of academic fields, including art history, history, and religious studies. J. I. Miller; California State University, Long Beach
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 1997
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Long Description
Jeffrey F. Hamburger's groundbreaking study of the art of female monasticism explores the place of images and image-making in the spirituality of medieval nuns during the later Middle Ages. Working from a previously unknown group of late-fifteenth-century devotional drawings made by a Benedictine nun for her cloistered companions, Hamburger discusses the distinctive visual culture of female communities. The drawings discovered by Hamburger and the genre to which they belong have never been given serious consideration by art historians, yet they serve as icons of the nuns' religious vocation in all its complexity. Setting the drawings and related imagery--manuscript illumination, prints, textiles, and metalwork--within the context of religious life and reform in late medieval Germany, Hamburger reconstructs the artistic, literary, and institutional traditions that shaped the lives of cloistered women. Hamburger convincingly demonstrates the overwhelming importance of "seeing" in devotional practice, challenging traditional assumptions about the primacy of text over image in monastic piety. His presentation of the "visual culture of the convent" makes a fundamental contribution to the history of medieval art and, more generally, of late medieval monasticism and spirituality.

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