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Reviews 207 Gregory puts Alessandra's letters and their significance for Florentine history in their historiographical context (pp. 20-25). She discusses the debates over Florentine patrician family structures in the 1960s and 1970s, foUowed by a brief reference to work on Florentine women in the late 1970s and 1980s. The brevity of Gregory's overall discussion on w o m e n in Renaissance Florence is difficult to understand, given that these letters were written by a widow. I would have liked to have seen a more detailed analysis of the Uterature in this area, which could also have included discussion of recent work on the possibiUties of gender analysis in Renaissance Florentine studies. Alessandra's letters, it should be stressed, are not only an important source for her o w n life but also for that of the Uves of other patrician women, especiaUy widows, in fifteenth-century Florence. OveraU, however, Heather Gregory's translation is of a very high standard which wiU enable students to gain greater insights into Alessandra's life, that of the exiled Strozzi and, more generally, the women of Florence. NataUe Tomas Department of History Monash University Hamburger, Jeffrey F., Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medie Convent (CaUfornia Studies in the History of Art 37), Berkeley/Los Angeles/London, University of CaUfornia Press, 1997; cloth; pp. xxiv, 318; 117 b / w iUustrations, 12 colour plates; R.R.P. US$55.00,£40.00. This book deals primarily with a collection of late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century single-leaf drawings from the Benedictine abbey of St Walburg near Eichstatt in Germany. In contrast to other images within the convent, these drawings 'show scant regard for the conventions of professional scriptoria and workshops' (p 10) and they are naive in execution and idiosyncratic in their imagery. Hamburger discusses eleven drawings from St Walburg's, although more m a y remain in the abbey, since 25 were catalogued in the 1930s and only one appears to have been removed since. 208 Reviews The images depicted in these drawings are the Presentation in the Temple; the Entombment of Christ; a somewhat unconventional Gnadenstuhl; the Madonna and Child with St. Barbara and two nuns; St WUgefortis; the family tree of the Virgin; a Crucifixion with scenes from the life of Christ, in which the Virgin is prominently featured; the Agony in the Garden, set within a red rose; the Adoration of the Virgin and ChUd by two files of w o m e n , representing the consecration of the virgins; a second Crucifixion in which a nun and a Christ ChUd are contained within Christ's heart; and a heart containing a nun at a Eucharistic banquet with the Trinity. Hamburger also discusses a twelfth drawing at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, depicting the heart as a house containing a nun and the Trinity, which he identifies as being by the St. Walburg artist. These images have generally been characterised as Nonnenarbeiten (nuns' works), a term about which Hamburger is ambivalent, since he argues that it defines the works by deficiency, implying lack of skUl or sophistication, although he acknowledges the usefulness of setting these works apart. H e also rejects the term Kleines Andachtsbild (small devotional image) on the grounds that it lacks precision, and has been applied to 'virtuaUy any object that might have been used to stimulate devotional experience' (p. 3). H e argues that the application of inadequate terminology has served to obscure these works. Hamburger's purpose in this book is to show that despite their apparent crudity of style and execution, the St Walburg drawings, together with others of their genre, exempUfy profound devotional and theological purpose, particularly suited to the situation of enclosed nuns. Some of the images, particularly those depicting nuns, clearly have particular relevance to this audience, but he also argues convincingly that even those drawings such as the Crucifixion or Agony which might appear to have a more general appUcation, contain elements suggesting their appropriateness to these women. Less convincing, however, is the pervasive assumption that these drawings must necessarUy be produced by as w e U as for the nuns of St Warburg's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 207-210
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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