Cover image for Divine mirrors : the Virgin Mary in the visual arts
Divine mirrors : the Virgin Mary in the visual arts
Katz, Melissa R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxi, 297 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Catalog of an exhibition held at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.
Pt. I. Essays. The many names of the Mother of God / Robert A. Orsi ; Regarding Mary: women's lives reflected in the Virgin's image / Melissa R. Katz. -- Pt. II. Other Voices. Mary and the Ancient Goddesses / Mary R. Lefkowitz ; Mary in the christian tradition / Sharon K. Elkins ; The virgin's voice: representations of Mary in seventeenth-century Italian song / Claire Fontijn-Harris ; In a corner of Africa: reflections on the Virgin Mary / Ifeanyi Anthony Menkiti. -- Pt. III. The Catalogue. -- Pt. IV. Checklist. Works of Art with Marian Themes in the Collection of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College.
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
N8070 .D58 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Through a unique and stunning collection of paintings, sculpture, rare books, and works on paper, Divine Mirrors examines the complex relationship between sacred imagery and secular identity in the art of the Madonna. This magnificent work--born from a multi-year project that included a museum exhibition, scholarly symposium, and reinstallation of a segment of the permanent collection of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College--features the work of such renowned artists as Il Pintoricchio,Mantegna, Munch, and Leger, alongside fresh, undiscovered masters and little-known works of art. The book's fifty catalogue entries range from a rare thirteenth-century panel painting to a specially commissioned artwork exploring the intersection of religion and modern life. This volume investigates everything from non-Western perceptions of European religious practices to the Virgin Mary's voice in musical composition. In the opening essay "The Many Names of the Mother of God" noted scholar Robert A. Orsi considers why images of Mary offer contemporary Americans sucha powerful visual experience. Unlike paintings and sculptures created solely for aesthetic contemplation, Orsi writes, images of Mary are more than just artistic representations--they become for us an embodiment of the Virgin Mother herself. Then, moving into the historical realm, editor Melissa R.Katz guides us on a twenty-century chronological tour that explores the intersection of art history and world history in representations of Mary. Katz's essay "Regarding Mary: Women's Lives Reflected in the Virgin's Image" takes the elements of Marian iconography most relevant to the study of art and weaves them together to provide a guide for modern audiences to engage with the religious origins of our common artistic legacy. Filled withfascinating information, this important work requires no particular background in art history, religion, or the Bible. Readers of all levels will be rewarded with an in-depth encounter with a remarkable and complex figure.

Author Notes

Melissa R. Katz is Curator of European Art at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College. Robert A. Orsi is Professor of Religion at Indiana University and author of The Madonna of 115th Street and Gods and the City.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

What do Gertrude K?sebier's photo "Heritage of Motherhood," Albrecht Dorer's woodcut Life of the Virgin series and Our Lady of Guadalupe spray cans have in common? All reflect Divine Mirrors: The Madonna Unveiled, in which multiple images and essays on the virgin mother attempt to elucidate her hold on world culture. Melissa R. Katz, assistant curator at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College (where the title exhibition is permanently housed) and Robert A. Orsi (The Madonna of 115th Street), a professor of American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, have assembled six essays (the most intriguing being Ifeanyi Anthony Menkiti's "In a Corner of Africa: Reflections on the Virgin Mary") and a plethora of b&w and color images from the exhibit. ( Aug 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

From the beginning of Christianity, probably no subject has been interpreted and reinterpreted as often as the Virgin Mary except perhaps her son. This catalog documents an exhibit at the Davis Art Museum at Wellesley College, which explores the importance of Mary as a concept and image for the previous 2000 years and features paintings by artists such as Pintoricchio and Munch, as well as many lesser-known works. Katz (assistant curator, Davis Museum) and Orsi (American religious history, Harvard Divinity Sch.; The Madonna of 115th Street) provide several essays, discussing a range of topics, from our contemporary view of Mary and the passions she arouses to the major visual categories of the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Holy Family, and the Coronation. The exhibit's 50 works are reproduced in color, and a total of 177 figures, mostly in black and white, illustrate the catalog and essays. As much sociological as art historical, this scholarly book attempts to bridge the sacred imagery with secular culture. Recommended for large public libraries, and for museum and university art book collections. Ellen Bates, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The exhibition catalog has here evolved into an even better beast. A special exhibition helped to spur the production of this book, produced after the fact. The book's scope is impressively wide--in the fields of its 25 contributors, which include religion, philosophy, classics, music; in the range of objects--every century since the 13th is invoked in the 50 catalog entries, and even in the identities of their authors, which include two written by the artists and several by competent undergraduates. One of the entries introduces a photographic work commissioned for the exhibition: in general, the project seems to have been an occasion for the kind of interdisciplinarity and cooperation so often wished for and so seldom actually experienced. The objects cataloged belong to the permanent collection, and thus have the genuine interest of the less well-known; the essays, one on the place of the Virgin Mary in modern America, the other, longer one on the history of Mary's representation and its significance at different points of time and place, successfully address a broad audience without superficiality or blandness. An admirable combination of the local and the global, of past and present, nicely illustrated and affordably priced, readily recommended for everyone. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. P. Emison University of New Hampshire

Table of Contents

I Essays
The Many Names of the Mother of GodRobert Orsi
Regarding Mary: Women's Lives Reflected in Mary's Image
II Other VoicesMelissa R. Katz
Mary and the ancient GoddessesMary R. Lefkowitz
Mary in the Christian TraditionSharon K. Elkins
The Virgin's Voice: Representations of Mary in Seventeenth-Century Italian SongClaire Fontijn-Harris
In a Corner of AfricaIfeanyi Anthony Menkiti
Reflections on the VirginMary
III Catalog Entries
IV Checklist of Works of Art with Marian Themes in the Collection of the Davis
Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College