Renaissance Women Patrons: Wives and Widows in Italy c 1300-1550
This study examined, for the first time, the powers of a wide variety of lay women who were able to commission art in Italy. Women of quite lowly status could contribute to a parish project, whilst the wives of lawyers, doctors and bankers emerged as able on occasion to act as patrons. The legal status of the wife as opposed to the widow, depending on whether women were under Lombard or Roman law, was examined, as it related to the relative agency of female patrons. The ways in which women who commissioned might have seen themselves both as conforming to and redefining, the notions of the respectable feminine in their societies is also discussed with special reference to developing conduct literature.