Suri Li (PhD, History of Art), 'The Poor Clares and the Meditations on the Life of Christ'
Abstract: The rich scholarship on Italian female religious communities during the medieval and early modern period has revealed that no two convents were the same. Each convent was closely associated with its distinct local socio-political network, manifested certain contemporary religious ideals, and operated with a specific emphasis on particular conventual activities. From 1100 to 1400, there was an increase in both new types of religious life for women and the number of female saints. A rising number of girls were sent to join these religious communities across the Italian peninsula for various reasons, either voluntarily or coerced. This talk will focus on the Poor Clares, the first community of Franciscan women established by Saint Clare and cloistered by Pope Innocent III in 1216. By analyzing various artworks commissioned by and produced for these Franciscan nuns, especially Pacino di Bonaguida’s Tree of Life, the talk will discuss the devotional practices of these nuns. It will explore how the particularly important devotional work Meditationes Vitae Christi is visually portrayed by Bonaguida and should be understood by contemporary religious audiences.
Biography: Suri Li is a third-year History of Art PhD candidate at Newnham College. She obtained her first-class honours degree in History of Art from the University of Edinburgh before entering the MPhil in History of Art programme at the University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research investigates the artistic and social networks between various Dominican female religious houses across Italy between the fourteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Fieldworks and archival research in Italy are essential to her current research project. She received a three-month fellowship from NIKI Florence and has conducted archival research in Florence, Prato, Lucca, Genoa and Turin since the second year of her doctoral studies.