Fifteenth Century Illustrations of Christine De Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies. Analyzing the Relation of the Pictures to the Text

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Christine de Pizan was one of the few authors of late medieval France involved with all aspects of her manuscripts’ production. Her work has received enormous scholarly attention as their subject is nothing less than the history and education of women. This book fills a gap in the scholarship by shifting the attention from their literary content to the imagery chosen to illustrate these two pioneering books on women and their worth. This new focus includes artists of Christine’s own choosing to those illustrating The City and The Treasure after her death throughout the peak of the two works’ popularity. While much attention has been given to her written words, this book studies the pictures in her texts. In showing the messages embedded in the pictures, the author shows that during the Renaissance status was depicted in highly visual ways. Women were allowed to hold positions of status, but this was often indicated by the way they dressed. This book gives us an important analysis of race, gender, and class during the 15th century.


“Dufresne’s astute analysis of texts and images, firmly set within the framework of historical context, enables her to uncover and elucidate facts from fictions and gives the reader a multi-faceted understanding of medieval and Renaissance art through the lens of Christine de Pizan."

-Prof. Virginia Gardner Troy, Berry College

“Dufresne deftly brings the reader through the costume changes of Christine’s characters… she is a gifted storyteller with a knack for descriptive language that is both poetic and accessible.”

-Prof. Joyce Kubiski,
Western Michigan University

“Most of the criticism of Pizan compoased in the last three decades has been from the literary and political perspective. Taking a different viewpoint, that of art history, Dufresne shows how Pizan’s choices of which scenes and characters to represent in The City emphasize the life of the mind, rather than the adventures detailed in her various exempla.”

-Prof. Josephine A. Koster,
Winthrop University

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Christine de Pizan and her Artists
Christine as Author
The City of Ladies as Allegory
Making the Manuscripts
Christine’s Life
Christine’s Works
Dress and Meaning
Christine’s Readers
The City of Ladies Master

Chapter Two: Christine and the Virtues in The Book of the City of Ladies
Christine on Christine
Christine’s Conservative Dress
Christine in her Study
The Arrival of the Virtues
Who Builds the City?
Christine and the Virtues Debate
The Dutch City of Ladies: Der Lof der Vrowen

Chapter Three: Women of Worth
Part 1: Taking on Tradition Warriors and Queens
Queen Semiramis
Queen Fredegund
Queen Camilla
Scholars and Poets
Part 2: Virtuous Women
Ghismonda and Lisabetta
Dress and Virtue: The Case of Claudia Quinta
Part 3: The Queen, Her Court and Subjects Citizens

Chapter Four: The College of Ladies
The City Becomes a School
Educating Wives and Daughters
The Influence of The Treasure of the City of Ladies
A Mirror for the Princess
No Rest for Christine
Dame Prudence
The Lecturers and Their Classroom Students
Exemplars: Anne of France and Margaret of Austria
Illustrated Ladies Learning:
Chapter Five: Word and Image
Clothing Christine’s Heroines and Scholars
Christine, Boccaccio and Male Authorities
Christine as Teacher
The Feminine Utopia

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