The Crucifixion with Virtues in stained glass: Wounds, violent sexualities, and aesthetics of engagement in the Wienhausen cloister

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Abstract

A disquieting window panel shows the crucified Christ locked in an intimate embrace with Caritas, who is thrusting a dagger into his chest. This 14th-century version of the Crucifixion with the Virtues assumes the place of the Crucifixion scene in the Passion cycle of the glazed upper cloister at the Cistercian women's abbey at Wienhausen in northern Germany. A comparison with related motifs in biblical exegesis and devotional literature, as well as with various visual media, especially manuscript illumination, shows that the window panel is unsurpassed in its display of seeming treachery and duplicity. The panel engaged this monastic community cognitively and emotionally amid an almost habituated display of images exhibiting blood, wounds, and weapons that surrounded the women, and within the recurrent Passion and Easter rituals performed by and for the nuns during the late Middle Ages. The article questions the functions of implicit sexual violence when used metaphorically.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-343
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Glass Studies
Volume56
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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