Androgyny Image

Matthew Paris was an English monk born around 1200. He was a member of the St. Albans monastery and is well known today as one of the most important chroniclers of the medieval ages. Paris also wrote religious treatises which contained his own illustrations including that of Mary and Jesus at left.

While Mary is often seen in a demure, matronly manner, as in Michelangelo's pieta, she is shown here as a king-like figure, seated on an ornate throne with a thick, heavily jeweled crown. Her face is squared, yet ruddy and her torso appears wide and stout. The delicate hands and forearm appear to be at odds with the much more masculine rendering of the body. This image of Mary points to an aspect which differentiates her from ordinary women. As the sole parent of Christ, she served the physical roles of both mother and father, having been immaculately impregnated by God. In this sense, she performed the same feat as Adam, another androgyne, who miraculously produced a woman, Eve, from his own flesh without any outside physical intervention.

Paris added himself to the bottom of the image in a prostated pose beneath the son of God. The monk shares Mary's androgynous character by binding his body and life to God and, in the process, giving up any procreational activity.

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Mary and Jesus/Matthew Paris

Androgyny Image

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