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Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci: beauty, politics, literature and art in early Renaissance Florence

Allan, Judith Rachel (2015)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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My thesis offers the first full exploration of the literature and art associated with the Genoese noblewoman Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci (1453-1476). Simonetta has gone down in legend as a model of Sandro Botticelli, and most scholarly discussions of her significance are principally concerned with either proving or disproving this theory. My point of departure, rather, is the series of vernacular poems that were written about Simonetta just before and shortly after her early death. I use them to tell a new story, that of the transformation of the historical manna Simonetta into a cultural icon, a literary and visual construct who served the political, aesthetic and pecuniary agendas of her poets and artists. It is an account of the Florentine circles that used women to forge a collective sense of identity, of the emergence of Simonetta and her equally idealised peers as touchstones in contemporary debates regarding beauty and love, and of their corresponding lack of importance as 'real' women in the conservative republic in which they lived. In doing this, my thesis makes an important contribution to our understanding of how and why female beauty was commodified in the poetry and art of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Florence.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Mac Carthy, Ita and Hemsoll, David E.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Modern Languages
Subjects:DG Italy
HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
NX Arts in general
PQ Romance literatures
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:5616
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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