Body and Self: Constructing Identity in Medieval Art

In the Middle Ages, as today, visual art offered an avenue to explore, affirm, and sometimes challenge social roles and relationships. Medieval people defined themselves and their neighbors through numerous lenses, including gender, race, and especially class. For many in this period, self-worth was ultimately measured against the ideal heavenly role models: Jesus Christ and the saintly heroes of the day. The works on display here demonstrate some of the ways in which depictions of the physical body and other markers of identity were used by artists and understood by viewers in medieval Europe.

Representing God: The Body of Christ in Medieval Art

Heavenly Bodies: Representing the Saints

Earthly Bodies: Defining and Presenting the Self in Medieval Art