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Images of Aging Women 1470-1570


In this book, the author explores visual tradition of female aging in various parts of Europe which have shaped the history of Western Culture. While many of these images express misogynist tendencies, there are however, also positive values attached to some depictions of older women.

Several chapters focus on primarily critical images of Witches, Vices, Fates and Furies, as well as caricatures and satirical representations of lower-class women such as older peasant wives. By contrast, ancient Sibyls of pagan antiquity were depicted as pre-Christian prophetesses, while the visual veneration of St. Anne, "the grandmother of God," has continued to provide a family-centered role model for aging women in Catholic regions.

The onset of the Modern era is shown to have facilitated more realistic perceptions of older women, expressed in portrayals largely free of judgmental overtones.

This book challenges its readers to examine stereotypes that have continued to influence our own culture, while at the same time encouraging a rediscovery of traditions of awe and respect. In this way, constructive ways of dealing with the phenomenon of aging can be retrieved from a complex historical background.