Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Women, Art and Patronage from Henry II to Edward III 1216-1377

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Women, Art and Patronage from Henry II to Edward III 1216-1377

Article excerpt

Loveday Lewes Gee, Women, Art and Patronage from Henry II to Edward III 1216-1377 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2002). 232 pp. ISBN 0-85115-861-7. £45.00/$75.00.

This study is at once too general and too detailed. The author's stated aim is to look at patronage (of all sorts) by women over a 150-year period. However, since the only medieval women we can recognize as patrons generally come from particular strata of wealth and class, arc limited in number, and arc shadowy in the surviving evidence, it is clear that such a study can only be narrow in scope. Loveday Lewes Gee has assembled a group of fifty-four women patrons, whose biographies she gives in an appendix, and it is on these that the work rests. In fact, however, many of these women make only a fleeting appearance in the book, since we know so little about them, and most of the argument is carried on the shoulders of around a doxen women whose examples are used again and again. As a method for doing this, Gee gives us much detail about their lives. For example: 'Joan was the sister and heiress of Alan dc Plugcnct of Kilpeck. She married, as her second husband, Henry, son and heir of Sir John de Bohun who was the second son of Humphrey, 3rd Earl of Hereford and Essex. Henry died at Bannockburn in 1314. Sir John's elder brother, Humphrey, 4th Earl of Hereford and Essex, married Elizabeth, a daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile' (p. 84). And the method extends to other subjects: 'The two-storey elevation of the presbytery at Sweetheart has arched windows containing traceried lancets surmounted by cusped oculi (Plate 31). Above this was a wall passage with a trefoil-headed arcade to the inside and small lancets to the exterior. The trefoil arches were arranged in groups of three but the lancets in pairs' (p. 97). There is much merit in this sort of detail and this sort of history; but only if it is used for a purpose. …

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