- ジェンダー史学 (ISSN:18804357)
- vol.6, pp.29-42, 2010 (Released:2011-10-01)
This paper will examine the visual representations of plague victims as a specific complex of gender and class images. After the 1630 pandemic in Italy, the images of plague victims appeared in the official plague altarpieces commissioned by the city authorities during or just after the epidemic; they served as the collective votive objects (ex. The Neapolitan altarpiece by Luca Giordano for the memorial church of S.Maria del Pianto, ca.1660-61). Analysis of the historical context and visual languages will contribute to a better understanding of the characteristics of this genre and the unstated assumptions lying behind these paintings. In the foreground of the altarpiece, the miserable scene of the lazzaretto or quarantine camp is depicted with a crude realism. The victims in this scene are clearly represented as the Poor. On their naked bodies, one can easily distinguish the plague symptoms. In the 17th-century, the painters following Raphael's model, uniformly chose to insert a motif of a dead mother with a child clinging to her breasts and some male workers carrying the dead. This group became a leitmotif for plague imagery. In sharp contrast to the Virgin Mary and the interceding patron saints, who are depicted as standing or seated gloriously on the clouds, this figure of the dead mother lying at their foot could be read as a sinful daughter of Eve. Also the male workers are represented not as the agents of governance but as those who have a marginal existence exposed to contagion, for they are depicted among the Poor and placed outside the city walls. In conclusion, under the social crisis brought on by the plague, the city authorities tried to keep and reinforce their ideal social and gender systems by visualizing the plague victims as the Other, who should be excluded from their healthy society.