Renaissance Mothers and Matriarchs- The beginning of the journey!

Image Domenico Ghirlandaio, Portrait of Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni (1488, Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid)

Welcome to my blog- this is my first ever post and I hope that my random ramblings will keep you entertained over the coming couple of months (and maybe years!!) as I begin my PhD research on Florentine Renaissance matriarchs. What I am hoping (fingers crossed!!) to focus my research on is the examination of the jewellery worn by women in their beautiful portraits and to show that the jewellery they wear is a marker of their success as women in producing children. I will be looking at exquisite portraits of republican and ducal Florentine women as well as the representation of mythical and religious women to analyse the importance of motherhood and fulfilling this role to be a valuable member of society. Of course no discussion of the ‘ideal’ woman would be complete without exploring the ‘fallen women’- those ‘terrible’ women who didn’t fall into the category of what patriarchal society deemed appropriate for women at that time.

My love for exploring the world of Renaissance women all began in my undergrad under the guidance of the Renaissance expert and head of the History of Art department at University College Cork, Dr. Flavio Boggi. When he talked about the portraiture of the Renaissance period, I instantly wanted to know more about these women’s’ lives, who they were, how they lived. I devoted my final year thesis on the examination of the virtuous ideal Renaissance woman and have never looked back. My MPhil examined Renaissance women both of Florence and the courts of Renaissance Italy who died in childbirth and were memorialised in a variety of ways and media by their husbands and other male members of their family. When deciding what subject I wanted to research for my PhD, I got caught up in another idea but after a few months realised that I really wanted to return to my Renaissance women.

So that’s me!! Keep an eye on the blog as I will be updating it regularly with analysis of some of the most beautiful representations of women from the Renaissance from the likes of Domenico Ghirlandaio, Agnolo Bronzino, Leonardo da Vinci among others.