Suzanne Scanlan, RISD lecturer in the History of Art + Visual Culture, on her new book Divine and Demonic Imagery: Religious Women and Art in 15th Century Rome.
In the 15th Century, when a community of nuns dedicated to Saint Frances of Rome left their shared convent, they were mandated to cover their heads, “in such a way that nothing is visible beyond the forehead.” Properly dressed, the nuns worked in local hospitals and navigated the often dangerous streets of the city in pairs (never alone) to ensure their safety and to protect their good reputations. The virtues and vices of life in Renaissance Rome were graphically documented in two remarkable series of paintings commissioned by the nuns -- most notably for their dining hall where terrifying scenes of muscular nude demons attacking Saint Frances covered an entire wall. In this talk, we examine depictions of hair and head coverings in the convent paintings, at a time when a veil represented the line between the salvation of a woman’s soul or eternal damnation in Hell.
Books available for sale and signing.