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The medieval Roman icon, known as the Madonna della Clemenza (Santa Maria in Trastevere), is unusual for both its large size and its inclusion of a papal portrait. Debate over the age and patron of the icon has centered on the interpretation of two documents thought to refer to the image. In this thesis, the relevance and accuracy of these documents as a means of dating the icon is questioned, in part following the criticisms of Carlo Bertelli. Stylistic arguments put forth by Bertelli and others are also questioned in favor of the importance of iconographic evidence. In the first chapter, Pope John VII (707-707) is supported as the most logical patron of the icon based upon iconographic details. The most significant point concerns the similarity of Mary's costume to other known commissions by John VII. The iconographic similarity the icon shares with other works is also explored in terms of the icon's meaning. In a break with past scholarship, this thesis argues that the Madonna della Clemenza was commissioned for a papal palace. This idea is supported by a comparison with known palace decoration in Constantinople and Rome that share iconographic similarities with the icon. Finally, the possible meaning of the icon is discussed. Through a close examination of past scholars' interpretations of a political motive for the icon's creation, this paper suggests an alternative theory based upon the function of the icon to stimulate devotion. By connecting the icon's creation to devotional practices in Rome during John's lifetime, it is argued that the icon conflates Byzantine and Roman practices and is an early example of a new, devotional art.
Pope John VII, Byzantine, Papal Portrait, Queen Mary, Loros, Santa Maria Antiqua, Maria Regina, Devotion, Roman Icons
Date of Defense
October 28, 2004.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Art History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Art.
Includes bibliographical references.
Cynthia Hahn, Professor Directing Thesis; Paula Gerson, Committee Member; Jack Freiberg, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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