The Fruit of Devotion: Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Paintings of the Virgin and Child, 1450-1550

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Against the background of the wide-spread 'love' spirituality of the late Middle Ages, the book takes as its central theme the 'taste' metaphor which appears in paintings featuring the Virgin and Child, belonging to the genre of the Andachtsbild. The first chapter describes the use of fruit and flowers as sensory presentations to the Christ Child. The author traces the origin of this motif and explains how the consumption of fruit and the smelling of flowers point to symbolic connotations of love, virtuousness and the suffering of Christ. While the second chapter focuses on 'taste' metaphors in late medieval devotional tracts about spiritual Gardens of Love, the third chapter deals with the role of gustative imagery in late medieval religious experience in general. Special attention is paid to meditational prayers in Books of Hours and song texts.
In the final chapter the author gives an iconological interpretation of the 'taste' metaphor in a whole range of contemporary Virgin and Child Andachtsbilder, explaining that the fragrance and flavour imagery is intended to induce the viewer, through meditation on the image, to identify emphatically with Christ.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationAmsterdam & Philadelphia
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
StatePublished - 1994

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