The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence


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Megan Holmes

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In Renaissance Florence, certain paintings and sculptures of the Virgin Mary and Christ were believed to have extraordinary efficacy in activating potent sacred intercession. Cults sprung up around these “miraculous images” in the city and surrounding countryside beginning in the late 13th century. In The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence, Megan Holmes questions what distinguished these paintings and sculptures from other similar sacred images, looking closely at their material and formal properties, the process of enshrinement, and the foundation legends and miracles associated with specific images. Whereas some of the images presented in this fascinating book are well known, such as Bernardo Daddi’s Madonna of Orsanmichele, many others have been little studied until now. Holmes’s efforts center on the recovery and contextualization of these revered images, reintegrating them and their related cults into an art-historical account of the period. By challenging prevailing views and offering a reassessment of the Renaissance, this generously illustrated and comprehensive survey makes a significant contribution to the field.

Megan Holmes is professor of the history of art at the University of Michigan. 

The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence. . .is the fruit of long, sustained and carefully considered research.”—Richard Cork, Apollo

“Megan Holmes’s The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence explores this fascinating and hitherto neglected subject with admirable clarity and insight.” —David Ekserdjian, The Spectator

The Miraculous Image opens many and varied possibilities for further research. Richly detailed and thoughtfully argued, it will be (indeed already is) a key text for scholars of medieval and Renaissance art.”—Rebecca Zorach, Speculum

“The history of Marian apparitions is also the history of objects, and Holmes in particular provides an exceptional model for how to look at and interpret these devotional objects in their cultural, visual, theological, and historical contexts.”—Karen Elizabeth Park, Religious Studies Review

Winner of the 2015 Charles Rufus Morey Book Award given by the College Art Association.
ISBN: 9780300176605
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
396 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
80 color + 170 b/w illus.