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Late medieval enclosed gardens of the low countries: Mixed media, remnant art, récyclage and gender in the low countries (sixteenth century onwards)

Book Contribution - Chapter

© 2018 Taylor & Francis. The early sixteenth-century Enclosed Gardens or horti conclusi of the Augustinian Hospital Sisters of Mechelen form an exceptional world heritage collection from the late medieval period (Figure 2.1). Most Enclosed Gardens have been lost to the ravages of time, with this loss exacerbated by lack of both understanding and interest. No fewer than seven Enclosed Gardens, however, were preserved until the late twentieth century in their original context, that is the small community of Augustinian nuns in Mechelen. 2 Like sleeping beauties, they remained secluded in the sisters’ rooms as aids to devotion. Their centuries-long slumber has recently given way to a new phase of a lively debate and active scholarship, as these popular retables are now considered unique testimonies of female spirituality in the sixteenth century. Their remarkable pictorial vernacular provides new insights into life, thought and devotion in female convent communities. They testify to a cultural identity connected with strong mystical traditions; they are a gateway to a lost world, an essential part of the rich material and immaterial culture of the Southern Netherlands in the early sixteenth century.
Book: The Agency of Things in Medieval and Early Modern Art: Materials, Power and Manipulation
Pages: 33 - 47
Publication year:2017