Thesis

Chastity in the Madonna of Jan Vos

This study will focus on the symbols for chastity contained in the Madonna of Jan Vos. While the painting contains several allusions to this virtue, the discussion will concentrate on just two of those motifs, the tower and the crown. A third motif will be suggested, as well, although it does not appear as clearly as the tower and the crown but is indicated by certain of the compositional elements. The third motif is the Throne of Solomon. The discussion will trace the historical background of the tower and the crown, from antiquity through the early Renaissance, in order to ascertain the importance of those motifs in various art forms and the importance of chastity in genera1 to the moral and social traditions of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Since the purpose of this study is to emphasize the importance of that virtue, during that period, literary and visual sources will be looked at in some depth to support that hypothesis. The donor portrait will also be considered as an indication of the importance of chastity to the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The history of this art form will be traced in the same manner as those of the tower and crown, and attention will be paid to the shift in attitude toward the portrait which occurred in the early Renaissance. This shift of attitude in art reflected the growing emphasis on the individual and his virtue, and its importance needs to be considered in light of the other aims of this study.

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