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The Magdalen Fresco Cycles of the Trentino, Tyrol and Swiss Grisons, c.1300-c.1500

By Joanne W. Anderson

Abstract

This thesis presents and contextualises a distinct cluster of fresco cycles depicting the life of Mary Magdalen in the central-eastern Alpine regions of Trentino, Tyrol and the Swiss Grisons from the late middle ages to the early Renaissance. Located for the most part in the marginal rural parish ambit and reflecting the agenda of the local patron, these cycles offer an alternate manifestation of the popularity and relevence of a major saint at this time. As such my thesis is a corrective to the precedence placed on the role of the mendicant orders in the development and transmission of the Magdalen cult and its visual canon.\ud Through a series of interrelated case study chapters, I examine the narrative mural paintings found in the churches of Dusch, Rencio, Vadena, Seefeld, Cusiano and Pontresina, with three further appendices presenting relevant comparative works and restoration details. Each chapter sheds light on a neglected but crucial area of late medieval painting, drawing to the fore their individual interpretations of the Magdalen cult but also their affinities to one another. In particular, my thesis establishes the possibility of diverse patronage sources, modes of image reception and access. Moreover, it documents the sophisticated handling of issues such as gender, religious drama and the relevance of the life cycle liturgies, all of which contribute to the many iconographical innovations.\ud In the absence of mendicant association, I suggest that the transmission of the visual cult of Mary Magdalen was made possible by itinerant artists and workshops, as well as a generational network of influence radiating from regional centres. As a result, my thesis contributes to a growing interest in the organisation, life and relevance of rural parish churches and communes and particularly those in remote areas

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OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3111
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