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CANCELLED - The Power of Blue: Didactic Models in Text and Image in Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea

London, British Library, Harley MS 4431, f.107r, Diana reading detail

Wednesday 6 December 2023, 6.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Charlotte Cooper-Davis, Independent Researcher


Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea is a unique work: each of the 100 sets of glossed verse imparts a lesson through an exemplary figure or didactic model and is accompanied by an image that was created in collaboration with the author. The 101 images featured in one of the Othea author manuscripts (British Library, Harley MS 4431) were prepared by a master known as the Master of the City of Ladies and, although copied from an earlier source, the images in this manuscript set out to enhance women's power in a way that the earlier manuscript did not. This talk will analyse some of this artist's depictions of the didactic models who are present in the text to reveal his predilection with representing female didactic figures in blue, especially in verses evoking wisdom, chastity, and motherhood. The Master of the City of Ladies thereby creates a network of intervisual connections that enhance the power of the individual women represented, and of women as a collectivity. 


Charlotte Cooper-Davis has carried out extensive research into the visual programme of Christine de Pizan's manuscripts and the relationship between text and image in manuscripts of her works. She is the author of the biography, Christine de Pizan, Life, Work, Legacy (Reaktion 2021) and of Christine de Pizan: Empowering Women in Text and Image (Arc Humanities, 2023).

Location: BS/005 Berrick Saul Building