Artibus et Historiae no. 38 (XIX)

1998, ISSN 0391-9064

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LINDA A. KOCH - The Portrayal of Female Sainthood in Renaissance San Gimigniano: Ghirlandaio's Frescoes of Santa Fina's Legend

Domenico Ghirlandaio's two frescoes depicting the Legend of S. Fina in the Collegiata at San Gimignano (intended for the promotion of this local saint's official recognition by the Church) present an ideal image of female sainthood that focuses overwhelmingly on Fina's physical body. Ghirlandaio used Fina's recumbent position on a hard board to his advantage, providing settings that establish her likeness to the Virgin Mary, Christ Crucified, the early martyrs, and the Eucharist. The settings also imply her connection with the institution of the Church itself both through a visualization of the metaphorical equation of the spiritual and material "Church" and through reference to the Mass of St. Gregory. In a very brief depiction of a saint's legend unparalleled in the fifteenth century, Ghirlandaio endowed a little-known local female with universal Christian significance.

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