The cult of the Virgin: motherhood and the humanity of a Christian God 

How did depicting motherhood shape cultural perceptions of God? In the later middle ages, the Cult of the Virgin Mary emerged out of a need to consolidate the power of the Christian Church. The Virgin Mary’s motherhood transformed the art of the era as much as it transformed the practice of religion. This talk explores the shifting image of the Virgin Mary, how She became the focus of art and prayer and how the humanity of motherhood set the standard, for better or worse, for women throughout Europe.  

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Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. Sarah is currently a lecturer at the University of Arts London and Coordinator for City Lit’s Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah’s current research is focused on translation and empathy.

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