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Art and Piety in the Female Religious Communitites of Renaissance Italy is the first systematic study of the function, character, and commissions of art created and used in conventual communities. Anabel Thomas challenges the received assumptions about art works in religious establishments populated by women, among them, that such communities contained few works of art; that these works did not have gender-specific qualities; and that religious women played no role in commissioning such imagery or in influencing its design and purpose. Through case studies, she establishes that in fact artistic imagery did figure prominently in conventual communities and she also identifies its various institutional roles. Based on archival findings that are published here for the first time, Thomas' groundbreaking study contributes to a growing literature that reexamines the role and influence of gender on religious imagery in the early modern period.
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