Publication Details

D'Arcens, L, (2004). Book review - Allison Levy, Widowhood and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe, Parergon, 21(2), 2004, 206-208.


The past decade has witnessed the appearance of a number of excellent edited essay collections dealing with widowhood in the European past, including Louise Mirrer’s Upon My Husband’s Death: Widows in the Literature and Histories of Medieval Europe (1992), Cindy L. Carlson and Angela Jane Weisl’s Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Middle Ages (1999), and Sandra Cavallo and Lyndan Warner’s Widowhood in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (1999). The essays assembled by Allison Levy in Widowhood and Visual Culture in Early Modern Europe offer a distinctive contribution to the existing scholarship, shifting the focus away from social, legal, and discursive constructions of widowhood to explore instead the ‘understudied correlation’ between widowhood and such visual media as painting, architecture, sculpture, mourning ritual, and so on. The volume’s 15 essays together make a compelling case for widows’ active involvement in the production and perpetuation of visual culture (particularly in their capacity as patrons), and offer a thorough portrayal of widows’ centrality in the memorial practices of their day.