Sensory Piety as Social Intervention in a Mechelen Besloten Hofje

Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen

Besloten hofjes compel sensory devotion, and sight provides the privileged point of entry into the works. Paradoxically, a female devotee from Mechelen, identified here as visually impaired, is represented in a wing hinged to one example. By prioritizing physical disability over spiritual interiority in the study of the hofje, this essay recalibrates sensory piety as socially persuasive. The investigation in turn complicates previous models for the production and reception of Besloten hofjes in general.

Previously untapped archival and visual evidence reveals that the hofje was likely commissioned by the impaired woman’s parents, probably for the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis (Hospital of Our Lady) in Mechelen, where she was professed. There, the hofje asserted a meritorious status in piety that claimed salvation for members of the familial triad, all three of whom were rendered spiritually suspect by the woman’s disability. It does so in part by invoking pious practices tied not to sight but to the other senses, despite the visual pull of the work. Furthermore, integrating the hofje’s portrait wings interpretively with a garden, as this essay is the first to do, opens a new means of analysis that reshapes proposed models of production for such works. Among its conclusions: the sisters did not produce this and other hofjes associated with the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis as previously proposed. Rather, the works were likely made in professional workshops in Mechelen that perhaps collaborated with nuns at contemplative convents in the city. This revised understanding of production realigns the hospital sisters’ agency with reception rather than production.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2017.9.2.1

Acknowledgements

This project has accrued many debts; it is my pleasure to acknowledge them here at long last. I thank Sister Myriam, of the former Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis in Mechelen, and Louis Van Buggenhout, Ann Snauwaert, and Chris Andries for facilitating my visit with her. For access to the hofjes and archival materials in Mechelen, I am grateful to Wim Hüsken at the Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed; Gerrit Vanden Bosch of the Archief van het Aartsbisdom Mechelen-Brussel; Willy Van de Vijver, De Ware Vrienden, and members of the staff of the Stadsarchief Mechelen; and Joni de Mol. The essay benefitted from discussions that followed my presentations at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in 2014 and at the conference, “Considering Women in the Early Modern Low Countries,” organized by Sarah Moran and Amanda Pipkin in Antwerp in 2015. I thank as well Kim Butler Wingfield, Cynthia Newman Edwards, Dagmar Eichberger, Heidi Eyestone, Reindert Falkenburg, Ingrid Falque, Aaron Hyman, Lynn F. Jacobs, Alison M. Kettering, Ann M. Roberts, Bret Rothstein, Kathryn M. Rudy, Mark Trowbridge, Joke Vandermeersch, Lieve Watteeuw, Diane Wolfthal, sisters of the Carmel “Troost” Vilvoorde, and the anonymous readers for JHNA.

Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?) (center cabinet), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 1 Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Ursula, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1513–24 (?) (center cabinet), polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wax, wire, and other materials in a wood case, 134 x 97.5 x 22.2 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. GHZ BH/2, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen (artwork in the public domain)
Fig. 2 Bone relic of the 11,000 virgin martyrs labeled, “This comes from the bones of the 11,000 martyred [virgins] (Dit es tghebennte vande[n] xim merteleere[n])” (detail of fig. 1), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002679, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 3 Detail fig. of 1.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 6-left Left-hand wing (Jacob Van den Putte with Saint James the Greater) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002659, photos: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 6-right Right-hand wing (Margaretha Svos and Maria Van den Putte with Saint Margaret of Antioch) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché and X002660, photos: Jean-Luc Elias
G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 8 G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber primus (Cologne, 1574) Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, B.6522
G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 8-detail G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber primus (Cologne, 1574) 1) Residence of Jacob Van den Putte and Margaretha Svos, on Hanswijkstraat at the corner of Potterijstraat. 2) Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis. Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, B.6522
Attributed to the Master of Antwerp, Christ Heals Two Blind Men and a Mad Man, from Lud, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Fig. 11 Attributed to the Master of Antwerp, Christ Heals Two Blind Men and a Mad Man, from Ludolph of Saxony, Tboeck vanden leven ons heeren Jesu Christi (The book of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ) (Zwolle (?), 1485–91). Hand-colored woodcut, 9.2 x 12.4 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-1961-717
Master of Alkmaar, Polyptych with the Seven Works of Charity, 1504, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 12 Master of Alkmaar, Polyptych with the Seven Works of Charity, 1504, oil on panel, 119.1 x 469.5 cm (with frame). Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2815, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop (artwork in the public domain)
Master of Alkmaar, Distributing Bread to the Blind and Needy (detail , Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 13 Distributing Bread to the Blind and Needy (detail of fig. 12), oil on panel, 103.5 cm _ 55 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2815-1 (artwork in the public domain)
Circle of Master of the Figdor Deposition, (Utrecht), Crucifixion (detail), 1505, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 14 Circle of Master of the Figdor Deposition, (Utrecht), Crucifixion (detail), 1505, oil on panel, 104.1 cm _ 84.9 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2212 (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Netherlandish, Christ and the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane, f, 1521, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague
Fig. 15 Netherlandish, Christ and the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane, from Die geestelicke boomgaert der vruchten daer die devote siel haer versadicht vanden vruchten der passien Christi (The spiritual fruit garden where the devout soul is satiated with the fruit of Christ’s Passion), woodcut from an edition printed in Utrecht by Jan Bernsten, 1521. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, inv. 150 G 44, fol. 17r
Unknown Mechelen, Christ Child, ca. 1500, Staatliches Museum, Schwerin, Schloss Güstrow
Fig. 16 Mechelen, Christ Child, ca. 1500, polychromed wood, gold, alabaster, velvet, ermine, pearls, and other materials, h. 30.5 cm . Schwerin, Staatliches Museum, Schloss Güstrow. © Staatliches Museum Schwerin, photo: Hugo Maertens (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Netherlandish (?), The Hand as the Mirror of Salvation, 1466, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection
Fig. 17 Netherlandish (?), The Hand as the Mirror of Salvation, 1466, hand-colored woodcut, 39.138.9 x 2726.8 cm . Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1943.3.639 (artwork in the public domain)
Jan Mombaer, Chiropsalterium (Handpsalter), from Rosetum exerci, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Music Division
Fig. 18 Jan Mombaer, Chiropsalterium (Handpsalter), from Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum (Rosary of spiritual exercises and sacred meditations) (Zwolle, 1510), woodcut, 19.7 x 14.5 cm. Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Music Division, ML171.M19 Case, n.p. [AaL2] (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen, Jawbone relic labeled, “This is from the bones o, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 21 Jawbone relic labeled, “This is from the bones of the 11,000 virgins (Dit es ghebe[e]nte vande[n] xim mechde[n]),” (detail of fig. 1)
Hans Memling, Saint Ursula Shrine, 1489, St. John’s Hospital, Bruges
Fig. 22 Hans Memling, Saint Ursula Shrine, 1489, oil and gilt on wood, 9991.5 x 91.599.2 x 41.5 cm. Bruges, St. John’s Hospital, © Lukas – Art in Flanders VZW, photo Hugo Maertens, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje (central cabinet), ca. 1525–28, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 24 Mechelen, Crucifixion Hofje (central cabinet), ca. 1525–28, polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wire, paint, and other materials in a wood case, 109 x 89.7 x 19.5 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/3, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008410, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, a, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 25 Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ Child (Sint-Anna-ten-drieën), Saint Augustine, and Saint Elisabeth (center cabinet), 1529 (?), polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wax, wire, and other materials in a wood case, 150 x 120 x 38 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/6, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008403, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), “Drie palen” stamps from central cabinets of B, ca. 1525–28, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 26-leftDrie palen” stamps from central cabinets of Besloten Hofjes. Left: Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, BH/3, stamp located on the right-hand exterior of the cabinet.
Unknown Mechelen, “Drie palen” stamps from central cabinets of B, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 26-rightDrie palen” stamps from central cabinets of Besloten Hofjes. Right: Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, BH/6, stamp located on the left-hand exterior of the cabinet
Unknown, Crucifixion Hofje, overview of center cabinet and ,
Fig. 27 Crucifixion Hofje, overview of center cabinet and wings, oil on panel, 109 x 151.5 x 19.5 cm (see fig. 2423),. © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008410, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown, Crucifixion Hofje, exterior wings, (see fig. 2423),
Fig. 28 Crucifixion Hofje, exterior wings, oil on panel, 109 x 89.7 cm (see fig. 2423), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KM009587, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, a, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 29 Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ Child (Sint-Anna-ten-drieën), Saint Augustine, and Saint Elisabeth, overview of center cabinet and wings, 150 x 120 x 38 cm, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008402, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (see fig. 25)
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 4 Overview of center cabinet (see fig. 1) and wings, oil on panel, 134 x 188.5 x 22.2 cm.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 5 Right-hand wing (Maria Van den Putte) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002660, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Hans Memling, Triptych of Willem Moreel and Barbara Van Valender, 1484, Groeninge Museum, Bruges
Fig. 7 Hans Memling, Triptych of Willem Moreel and Barbara Van Valenderberch, 1484, oil on panel, (center) 141 x 174 cm, (wings) 141 x 87 cm . Bruges, Groeninge Museum, 0000.GRO0091.I-0095.I , © Lukas – Art in Flanders VZW, photo Hugo Maertens, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown, Plan of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, Mechelen (detai, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 9 Plan of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, Mechelen (detail). Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, iconografische verzameling C 8018.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 10 Wax medallion with the Resurrection, dated 1513 (detail of fig. 1), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002683, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown German, Jocasta and Oedipus, from Giovanni Boccaccio, De m, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection
Fig. 19 German, Jocasta and Oedipus, from Giovanni Boccaccio, De mulieribus claris, (Ulm: Johann Zainer, 1473), woodcut, chap. 23 . Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection, Incun. 1473.B7, fol. 25v (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown North Netherlands or Flanders, Immaculate Virgin, ca. 1480–1500, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Frits en Phine Verhaaff Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds
Fig. 20 North Netherlands or Flanders, Immaculate Virgin, ca. 1480–1500, ivory with traces of polychrome, h. 11.3 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. BK-2008-69, purchased with the support of the Frits en Phine Verhaaff Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje, ca. 1510–30, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 23 Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje, ca. 1510–30, polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wire, paint, and other materials in a wood case, 158.5 x 139 x 33 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/1, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008407, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain).
Sisters at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-ten-Troost, Vilvoorde, Christ Falling under the Cross, 1500–20, The British Museum, London
Fig. 30 Sisters at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-ten-Troost, Vilvoorde, Christ Falling under the Cross, 1500–20, hand-colored woodcut print, 10.7 x 7.5 cm. London, The British Museum, © The Trustees of the British Museum, inv. 1895,0122.5 (artwork in the public domain)
  1. 1. Most of the relics are wrapped with bits of paper and wire; many are labeled with authentiques, small paper banderoles with inscriptions that declare the objects’ authenticity.

  2. 2. See E. Ann Matter, The Voice of My Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), xxiv–xxv.

  3. 3. Among the first to use the term, although in its French counterpart Jardin clos, was Camille Poupeye, “Les jardins clos et leurs rapports avec la sculpture Malinoise,” Bulletin du Cercle archéologique, littéraire et artistique de Malines 22 (1912): 50–114. See also, in addition to the publications cited below, Felix Marcus, “Die Mechelener ‘Jardin Clos,’” Der Cicerone: Halbmonatsschrift für die Interessen des Kunstforschers & Sammlers, ed. Georg Biermann (Leipzig: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1913), 98–101; Albert Marinus, “Le Jardin Clos,” in Le Folklore Belge (Brussels: Les éditions historiques/Turnhout: Brepols, 1937), 3:234–57; and Paul Dony, “Les ‘Jardins Clos,’” Ecclesia 98 (May 1957): 119–26. Not every work described as a Besloten hofje is equipped with a fence in the lower foreground, yet I would suggest that its absence would not preclude beholders from reading the work as an enclosed garden.

  4. 4. Recent studies on Netherlandish visual practices in a devotional context include Andrea Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire: The Infants Christ and St. John the Baptist in Early Netherlandish Art,” Art History 38, no. 3 (2015): 434–61; Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, In the Footsteps of Christ: Hans Memling’s Passion Narratives and the Devotional Imagination in the Early Modern Netherlands (Turnhout: Brepols: 2013); Ingrid Falque, “Portraits de dévots, pratiques religieuses et expérience spirituelle dans la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas (1400–1550)” (PhD diss., University of Liège, 2009), to be published in revised form as Devotional Portraiture and Spiritual Experience in Early Netherlandish Painting (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming); John Decker, The Technology of Salvation and the Art of Geertgen tot Sint Jans (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009); essays in Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. R. L. Falkenburg, W. S. Melion, and T. M. Richardson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007); and two works by Bret Rothstein, Sight and Spirituality in Early Netherlandish Painting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) and “Gender and the Configuration of Early Netherlandish Devotional Skill,” in Women and Portraits in Early Modern Europe: Gender, Agency, Identity, ed. Andrea Pearson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 15–34.

  5. 5. I am grateful to Wim Hüsken for drawing this possibility to my attention during a conversation in 2013 at the Huis De Zalm in Mechelen, where the hofje was temporarily displayed. The sister does not seem to have the same affliction as any of the figures in Pieter Bruegel’s Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind (1569). See Zeynel A. Karcioglu, “Ocular Pathology in The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind and Other Paintings by Pieter Bruegel,” Survey of Ophthamology 47, no. 1 (Jan.–Feb. 2002): 55–62. Her visage may indicate that she suffers from microphthalmia, a disorder in which the eyeballs are atypically small. I am grateful to Dr. Charles Pearson, O.D., for this information.

  6. 6. Allison P. Hobgood and David Houston Wood, for example, have called for more work that “determine[s] how, precisely, medieval people viewed disability and how they rectified their religious views with the reality of corporeal difference.” Allison P. Hobgood and David Houston Wood, eds., Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2013), 14. I am aware that some authors use the terms disability and impairment differently, as does Irina Metzler in Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about Physical Impairment during the High Middle Ages, c. 1100–1400 (New York: Routledge, 2006) and A Social History of Disability in the Middle Ages: Cultural Considerations of Physical Impairment (New York: Routledge, 2013). A critique is offered by Joshua R. Eyler, ed., Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2010). For a historical overview of disability issues in the Netherlands, see Ben Wuyts, Over Narren, Kreupelen, Doven en Blinden: Leven met een Handicap, van de Oudheid tot Nu (Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2005).

  7. 7. Paul Vandenbroeck, “Tu m’effleures,” in Hooglied: De beeldwereld van religieuze vrouwen in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden, vanaf de 13de eeuw/Le jardin clos de l’ame: L’imaginaire des religieuses dans les Pays-Bas du Sud depuis le 13e siècle, ed. Paul Vandenbroeck, exh. cat. (Brussels: Paleis voor Schone Kunsten/Martial et Snoeck, 1994), 91–104. The relationship of the hofjes to conventual cloistering and paradise as discussed by Vandenbroeck were taken up again by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Petra Marx, and Susan Marti, “The Time of the Orders, 1200–1500: An Introduction,” in Crown and Veil: Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries, ed. Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Susan Marti (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 59–61. See also Erik Vandamme, “Het ‘Besloten Hofje’ in het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten te Antwerpen: Bijdrage tot de studie van de kunstnijverheid in de provinciale Zuidnederlandse centra omstreeks 1500,” in Archivum Artis Lovaniense: Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis van de Kunst der Nederlanden; Opgedragen aan Prof. Em. Dr. J. K. Steppe, ed. Maurits Smeyers (Leuven: Peeters, 1981), 143–49.

  8. 8. Barbara Baert, with an epilogue by Lise De Greff, “The Glorified Body,” in Backlit Heaven: Power and Devotion in the Archdiocese of Mechelen (Tielt: Lannoo, 2009), 140–41. Essays from Hoogleid (see above, note 7): Luce Irigaray, “La voie du féminin, 155–65; Julia Kristeva, “Le Bonheur des beguines,” 167–77; and Birgit Pelzer, “Reliquats,” 179–203. Historicizing the hofjes offers an alternative to the psychoanalytic model, which presumes a universal female experience independent of the historical moment. See the critique of the essays in Hooglied by Liz James, “Hysterical (Hi)stories of Art,” Oxford Art Journal 18, no.1 (1995): 143–47, who wrote: “How foolish of me to think that feminist theory had got us past the stage where the woman is mystical, emotional, spiritual, and hysterical” and “[i]t is considerably easier to describe female spirituality as wild and free . . . than it is to consider medieval holy women in the context of their time” (145).

  9. 9. Barbara Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces: Revisiting the Late Mediaeval ‘Enclosed Gardens’ of the Low Countries (A Hermeneutical Contribution to Chthonic Artistic Expression),” Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (2012): 40. See also Barbara Baert, “‘An Odour. A Taste. A Touch. Impossible to Describe’: Noli Me Tangere and the Senses,” in Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe, ed. Wietse de Boer and Christine Göttler (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 142–45; and Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries: Contributions to Gender and Artistic Expression (Leuven: Peeters, 2016), which was published just as the present essay went to press.

  10. 10. Kathryn M. Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent: Imagining Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 110–18 and 257–58. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575

  11. 11. As discussed by W. Godenne, “Préliminaires à l’inventaire général des statuettes d’origine malinoise, présumées des 15e et 16e siècles,” Handelingen van de Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen 61 (1957): 110–16; A. Jansen, “Losse nota’s over de merktekens op de Mechelse beeldjes (15e–16e eeuwen),” Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheldkunde Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen 66 (1962): 148–56; R. de Roo, “Mechelse Beeldhouwkunst,” in Aspekten van de laatgotiek in Brabant: Tentoonstelling ingericht door de Intercommunale Interleuven ter gelegenheid van haar vijfjarig bestaan (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum, 1971), 420–62; Jan Crab, Het Brabants Beeldsnijcentrum Leuven (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum Leuven, 1977); and Jan Crab, Het laatgotische beeldsnijcentrum Leuven: Tentoonstelling, Leuven, Stedelijk Museum, 6 oktober–2 december 1979 (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum, 1979). The figures of saints Elizabeth of Hungary, Ursula, and Catherine of Alexander in the hofje addressed here are stamped on their socles, indicating their professional production in the city. The stamps are the letter M and Doermael, probably the name of a Mechelen woodcarver. See Het laatgotische beeldsnijcentrum Leuven, no. XX.15, 421–23; and Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 49.

  12. 12. Aspects of this argument are proposed in different ways by, for instance, Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 49; Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 11; and Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent, 112–18. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575

  13. 13. Horst Appuhn, “Die Paradiesgärtlein des Klosters Ebstorf,” Lüneburger Blätter 19–20 (1968–69): 27–39.

  14. 14. Hartmut Krohm, “Reliquienpräsentation und Blumengarten: Kunstgeschichtliche Bemerkungen zu den Schreinen in Kloster Bentlage,” Westfalen 77 (1999): 23–52.

  15. 15. Dagmar Eichberger, Leben mit Kunst, Wirken durch Kunst: Sammelwesen und Hofkunst unter Margarete von Österreich, Regentin der Niederlande (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002), 397–99.

  16. 16. The community, founded in the thirteenth century, was dissolved in 1992. The hospital’s history was addressed most recently in an exhibition catalogue, 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis: Uit het erfgoed van de Mechelse gasthuiszusters en het OCMW (Mechelen: Stedelijke Musea, 1998), with a bibliography of previous studies on 94–97.

  17. 17. The works have been discussed together by Stéphane Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” in 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, 49–57. They are on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen to the Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, where they have been assigned inventory numbers of BH/1–BH/7. Two small recesses in each lateral side of the cabinet numbered BH/1 strongly suggest that wings were once hinged to this hofje, which is the largest and most frequently discussed example from the hospital. The right-hand wing of BH/7, dated 1539, includes a portrait of a kneeling male lay worshipper; the contents of the cabinet were replaced later, probably in the eighteenth century. An eighth hofje, BH/8, which dates to the nineteenth century, was also in the possession of the hospital sisters; see Backlit Heaven (see note 8 above), fig. 182. Two of the sixteenth-century works, BH/2 and BH/3, can be tied with relative certainty to the hospital during the era in which they were produced: they include portrait wings that depict identifiable individuals associated with the community at the time. One of these, BH/2, is discussed in the present study. BH/3 is the subject of a separate essay I am preparing for publication (portions of the argument are summarized below). The wings of BH/4 and BH/5 depict saints; portraits are not included.

  18. 18. In addition to studies cited elsewhere in this essay, medieval Christian holy matter has received attention recently by Christy Anderson, Anne Dunlop, and Pamela H. Smith, eds., The Matter of Art: Materials, Practices, Cultural Logics, c. 1250–1750 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015); Sara Ritchey, Holy Matter: Changing Perceptions of the Material World in Late Medieval Christianity (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014) https://doi.org/10.7591/cornell/9780801452536.001.0001; and Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe (New York: Zone Books, 2011).

  19. 19. See, for instance, Poupeye, “Les jardins clos,” 79, and Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 54, no. 49.

  20. 20. The statutes are preserved in Mechelen at the Archief van het Aartsbisdom Mechelen-Brussel (hereafter AAM), Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509. The passage referred to here is: “Neither novices nor professed sisters will be allowed to wear anything made of gold, silver, or silk, inside their habit or on top of it, so that all wealth is eschewed (En selen noch novicie[n]. noch geprofessyde. moighen hebben in hen abyt noch over hen draghen yet gewracht van goude silvere oft int syde[n]. om alle curieusheit te schouwene),” fol. 7r. My thanks to Gerrit Vanden Bosch, archivist at the AAM, for his assistance with accessing and interpreting this and other documents in the archive, and to Joni de Mol for providing an initial transcription of the preface of the statutes and for improving my translations that appear below. The original act of reform with the seal of Jacob de Croÿ, bishop of Cambrai, is preserved at the Stadsarchief Mechelen (hereafter SAM), with no catalog number. The AAM statues cited here are written in an early-sixteenth century hand and likely were in the possession of the hospital sisters in that period.

  21. 21. After reaching this conclusion I found the same hypothesis in W. H. James Weale, Catalogue des objets d’art religieux du moyen âge, de la renaissance et des temps modernes: Exposés à l’Hotel Liedekerke à Malines, Septembre 1864 (Brussels: Charles Lelong, 1864), 38, no. 213. Weale’s proposal, made over a century ago, disappeared from the literature, perhaps because it was difficult to imagine how or why a triptych representing laypersons would be present in a community of professed sisters, despite the semipublic nature of their work with the infirm.

  22. 22. On names and naming in the later Middle Ages, see R. N. Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c. 1215–c. 1515 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 168–70.

  23. 23. The couple’s testament was signed and notarized on April 9, 1524, “in the city of Mechelen, at our house that stands on Hanswijkstraat at the corner of Potterijstraat (inder stadt van Mechelen ten huyse van en selven ouders staende inde Hanswijck strate opden hoeck van de Putterijen).” SAM, OCMW 3094. My appreciation to Willy Hendrickx, Willem Miseur, and François van der Jeught, of De Ware Vrienden van het Archief, for transcribing and talking with me about this document, and about SAM, OCMW 3102 (schepenbrief) and 8804 (register) cited below. I thank Willy van de Vijver and the SAM staff for permitting access to these and other materials at the archive, and De Ware Vrienden for helping me to better understand the organization and content of the hospital’s registers.

  24. 24. “These are donations and interest [receipts] belonging to the Holy Ghost of Hanswijk, for which this book was made and maintained by Jacob Van den Putte and Jacob de Vos, masters of the Holy Ghost, in the year of our lord 1523 (Dits den chijs en[de] de rente toebehoere[n]de heyligen gheest va[n] hanswijc. waer af dit boeck ghemaect en[de] v[er]nieut bi Jacob va[n]de[n] putte en[de] Jacob de Vos heylichgeestmeest[er]s Int Jaer o[n]s hee[re]n xvc̣ en[de] xxiii).” SAM, P. Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijk, Serie 1, no. 3, fol. 1 (numbered 5 in the upper right-hand corner).

  25. 25. SAM, OCMW 3094.

  26. 26. SAM, OCMW 3102. The children’s names are, in addition to Maria, Jacob and Jan.

  27. 27. SAM, OCMW 8804, f. 109r.

  28. 28. I have found no evidence for patronage and gifting in the materials at SAM or the AAM.

  29. 29. “[the] sculpture that was standing in the nuns’ refectory ([de] beelde. dat sij nonne[n] reefter hebben staende).” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 9v.

  30. 30. Falque, “Portraits de dévots, pratiques religieuses,” 104–5. Portraits that depict devotees with closed or nearly closed eyes are: the Master of the von Groote Adoration’s Triptych of the Lamentation (Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie des bildenden Künste), the Master of Frankfurt’s Triptych of the Humbracht Family (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut), and Joos van Ghent’s Crucifixion with a Family at Prayer (Madrid, Collection Herreros de Tejada). A few other examples depict a worshipper looking down at a holy figure such that the eyes can seem closed but probably are not, as in a south-Netherlandish painting, The Nativity with a Monk in Prayer (Philadelphia, Lasalle University Art Museum). I thank Dr. Falque for sharing images and information from her catalogue with me.

  31. 31. I thank Ingrid Falque for this suggestion.

  32. 32. Ludolph of Saxony’s Tboeck was widely read prior to the production of the hofje: it was published in four editions in Antwerp alone between 1487 and 1510.

  33. 33. For examples of this iconography, see Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), vol. 2, figs. VI.46–47; and David S. Areford, The Art of Empathy: The Mother of Sorrows in Northern Renaissance Art and Devotion (London and Jacksonville, Fla.: GILES for the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, 2013), 26, fig. 19. For Longinus, see Louis Réau, Iconographie de l’Art Chrétien, vol. 3, pt. 2, Iconographie des Saints (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958), 812–15.

  34. 34. The IRR study was unveiled at a special showing of hofjes at the Museum Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen on January 11, 2017. My thanks to Lieve Watteeuw for discussing the results of the study with me.

  35. 35. My thanks to Kim Butler Wingfield for drawing this connection to my attention.

  36. 36. As in, for example, the right-hand wing of Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Altarpiece of ca. 1475 (Florence, Uffizi).

  37. 37. Such tensions are discussed further in Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire (see note 4 above).

  38. 38. Lindsey Row-Heyveld, “‘The lying’st knave in Christendom’: The Development of Disability in the False Miracle of St. Alban’s,” Disability Studies Quarterly 29, no. 4 (Fall 2009): n.p.: http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/994/1178.

  39. 39. J. P. Filedt Kok, “De zeven werken van barmhartigheid, Meester van Alkmaar, 1504,” Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.9048; and Henk van Os et al., Netherlandish Art in the Rijksmuseum: 1400–1600 (Zwolle: Waanders, 2000), 15–16 and 82–83.

  40. 40. Larry Silver and Henry Luttikhuizen, “The Quality of Mercy: Representations of Charity in Early Netherlandish Art,” Studies in Iconography 29 (2008): 216–48 (inscription on 223).

  41. 41. New work in medieval disability studies is revealing that both positive and negative perspectives on disabilities and the disabled sat side-by-side, as discussed by Eyler in the introduction to Disability in the Middle Ages (see note 6 above)1–8. The visual evidence presented here, which has yet to be tapped by historians of disability, supports this claim.

  42. 42. Augustine, The Trinity (De Trinitate), trans. with introduction and notes by Edmund Hill (Brooklyn, N.Y.: New City Press, 1991), XI.i.2. For a recent analysis of medieval writings on the senses, including Augustine’s, see Éric Palazzo, L’ invention chrétienne des cinq sens dans la liturgie et l’art au Moyen âge (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2014), 59–90.

  43. 43. Augustine’s argument cannot be addressed in depth here. For a recent analysis with additional bibliography, see Eugene Vance, “Seeing God: Augustine, Sensation, and the Mind’s Eye,” in Rethinking the Medieval Senses: Heritage/Fascinations/Frames, ed. Stephen G. Nichols, Andreas Kablitz, and Alison Calhoun (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 13–29; and Alice E. Sanger and Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker, eds., Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2012), 1–16.

  44. 44. See the discussion by Edward Wheatley, “‘Blind’ Jews and Blind Christians: The Metaphorics of Marginalization,” chap. 3, in Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructs of Disability (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 63–89 with notes on 237–43 https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.915892. See also Moche Barasch, Blindness: The Story of a Mental Image in Western Thought (New York: Routledge, 2001), and Kahren Jones Hellerstedt, “The Blind Man and His Guide in Early Netherlandish Painting,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 13 (1983): 163–81.

  45. 45. For a deeper discussion of the complex imagery of the Rohan Hours miniatures, and the moralizing text paired with them, see Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:114–15.

  46. 46. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:115.

  47. 47. See Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 9–25, for a discussion that draws from different primary sources than those cited here.

  48. 48. Reindert M. Falkenburg, The Fruit of Devotion: Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Paintings of the Virgin and Child, 1450–1550 (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 1994), 42–46.

  49. 49. For these practices, see Annette LeZotte, “Cradling Power: Female Devotions and Early Netherlandish Jésueaux,” in Push Me, Pull You: Physical and Spatial Interaction in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art, ed. Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 59–84. My thanks to Dagmar Eichberger for bringing the Christ Child to my attention. Much has been written on art and the women’s monastic context in Germany. See, for example, the studies by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) and The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books/Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998).

  50. 50. Claire Richter Sherman, Writing on Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, exh. cat. (Carlisle, Penn.: Dickinson College, Trout Gallery; Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library /Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 64, and Areford, The Art of Empathy, 53.

  51. 51. As interpreted by Sherman, Writing on Hands, 246–47.

  52. 52. Wheatley, “Blinding, Blindness, and Sexual Transgression,” chap. 5 in Stumbling Blocks before the Blind, 129–54 and 248–51. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.915892

  53. 53. Margaret Franklin, Boccaccio’s Heroines: Power and Virtue in Renaissance Society (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2006), 101, n. 93. For a translation of Boccaccio’s text: Famous Women, ed. Virginia Brown (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). See also P. F. J. Obbema et al., Boccaccio in Nederland: Tentoonstelling van handschriften en gedrukte werken uit het bezit van Nederlandse bibliotheken ter herdenking van het zeshonderdste sterfjaar van Boccaccio (1313–1375) (Leiden: Academisch Historisch Museum, 1975).

  54. 54. The panel is discussed in “Keuze uit de aanwinsten. I: Paneeltje met Maria Immaculata,” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 56, no. 4 (2008): 474–75. The complex associations between garden imagery and sexuality in the early modern Netherlands was discussed recently by Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire,” 443–45. For an overview of critical issues in the study of enclosed gardens, see Liz Herbert McAvoy, “The Medieval Hortus conclusus: Revisiting the Pleasure Garden,” Medieval Feminist Forum 50, no. 1 (2014): 5–10.

  55. 55. For example, “it benefits religious women to be cut off from the company of secular persons, and particularly from men. Therefore, to avoid a habitual and daily entrance of secular people, as in other, well-regulated convents, divisions shall be made (want den religieusen vrouwen betaept vanden gemeynschape der weerlijcker persoone[n] ende besonder der mannen. afgesneden ende v[er]vrempt te sijne. dair omme om te schouwene den gewoenlijck en daigelijcsschen inganck der weerlijcker personen. na maniere vanden anderen wel gereguleerden conventen. salmen maken slutingen).” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fols. 15r–15v.

  56. 56. Heverlee (Leuven), Abdij van Park, Ms. 18, 115r–125v, transcribed and assigned a provenance with the Geel sisters by Kathryn M. Rudy, “How to Prepare the Bedroom for the Bridegroom,” in Frauen-Kloster-Kunst: Neue Forschungen zur Kulturgeschichte des Mittelalters, ed. Carola Jaeggi, Hedwig Roeckelein, and Jeffrey F. Hamburger (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 369–75. For a manuscript with a Mechelen calendar that may have belonged to a sister at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis in Mechelen (Ms. 71 G 53, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague), see Kathryn M. Rudy, “Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer,” JHNA: Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 2, nos. 1–2 (2010): 8–10, https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2010.2.1.1. The reform of the Geel hospital by Mechelen sisters is discussed by Frieda Van Ravensteyn, “Het hospitaal van Geel van zijn ontstaan tot 1552,” in 450 jaar Gasthuiszusters Augustinessen van Geel, ed. Frieda Van Ravensteyn, Michel De Bont, and Jaak Segers (Geel: St.-Dimpna- en Gasthuismuseum, 2002), 14–15.

  57. 57. “[P]ainted with a virginal green (met scoender groender verwen).” Heverlee (Leuven), Abdij van Park, Ms. 18, 115v.

  58. 58. Sharon T. Strocchia, “Introduction” in “Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe,” ed. Sharon T. Strocchia, special issue, Renaissance Studies 28, no. 4 (Sept. 2014): 499.

  59. 59. Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa, “The Virgin in the Hortus conclusus: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul,” Medieval Feminist Forum 50, no. 1 (2014): 11–32. For recent perspectives and bibliography on women and healthcare, see Monica Green, “Gendering the History of Women’s Healthcare,” Gender and History 20 (2008): 487–518 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0424.2008.00534.x; Alisha Rankin, “Women in Science and Medicine, 1400–1800,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, ed. Allyson M. Poska, Jane Couchman, and Katherine A. McIver (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2013), 407–21; and Strocchia, “Introduction,” 496–514.

  60. 60. Carole Rawcliffe, “‘Delectable Sightes and Fragrant Smelles’: Gardens and Health in Late Medieval and Early Modern England,” Garden History 37 (2008): 6.

  61. 61. See Falkenburg, The Fruit of Devotion, 42–46, with additional examples.

  62. 62. Yoshikawa, “The Virgin in the Hortus conclusus,” 18.

  63. 63. My thanks to Wim Hüsken for providing access to the hofje at the Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen in July of 2014, which enabled me to catalogue the relics and transcribe the authentiques. Evidence of pin or nail holes in the lateral inner sides of the cabinet indicate that at least these areas of the hofje were subject to manipulation sometime in the past.

  64. 64. Among recent studies on relics are James Robinson and Lloyd de Beer, eds., with Anna Harnden, Matter of Faith: An Interdisciplinary Study of Relics and Relic Veneration in the Medieval Period (London: The British Museum, 2014); Cynthia Hahn, Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400–circa 1204 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012); Charles Freeman, Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); Martina Bagnoli et al., eds., Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, exh. cat. (Cleveland Museum of Art; Baltimore: Walters Art Museum; London: The British Museum/New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010); Backlit Heaven (see note 8 above); and Henk W. van Os, The Way to Heaven: Relic Veneration in the Middle Ages (Baarn: de Prom, 2000), with reference to the Van den Putte hofje on p. 32.

  65. 65. The texts of several authentiques are partly obscured by the garden’s sculptural elements and therefore could not be read in full. The conservation project discussed below will enable the authentiques to be catalogued.

  66. 66. See Jeanne Nuechterlein, “Hans Memling’s St. Ursula Shrine: The Subject as Object of Pilgrimage,” in Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles, ed. Sarah Blick and Rita Tekippe (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 62.

  67. 67. Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 2:259–60.

  68. 68. For rosaries, see John R. Decker, “‘Practical Devotion’: Apotropaism and the Protection of the Soul,” in The Authority of the Word: Reflecting on Image and Text in Northern Europe, 1400–1700, ed. Celeste Brusati, Karl A. E. Enenkel, and Walter S. Melion (Boston: Brill, 2009), 371–75; for coral, see Peter Parshall, ed., The Woodcut in Fifteenth-Century Europe (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2009), 158.

  69. 69. Monica Green, “Bodies, Gender, Health, Disease: Recent Work on Medieval Women’s Medicine,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 4 (2005): 1-46, uses the term “agents of heath” to account for the many ways in which women were active medical providers, including situations such as household illness management in which they did not hold formal positions.

  70. 70. I draw here primarily from the introduction to Juan Luis Vives, De subventione pauperum sive de humanis necessitatibus, Libri II: Introduction, Critical Edition, Translation and Notes, ed. Charles Fantazzi and Constantinus Matheeussen, with the assistance of J. de Landtsheer (Leiden: Brill, 2002). See also Andrew Cunningham and Ole Peter Grell, Health Care and Poor Relief in Protestant Europe1500–1700 (London: Routledge, 1997); Thomas Safley, ed. The Reformation of Charity: The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief (Leiden: Brill, 2003); James Brodman, Charity and Religion in Medieval Europe (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2009); Andrew Brown, “Civic Charity,” in Civic Ceremony and Religion in Medieval Bruges c. 1300–1520 (Cambridge, : Cambridge University Press, 2012), 195–221; Jane Kromm, “The Early Modern Lottery in the Netherlands: Charity as Festival and Parody,” in Parody and Festivity in Early Modern Art: Essays on Comedy as Social Vision, ed. David R. Smith (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate 2012), 51–62; and Anne M. Scott, “Experiences of Charity: Complex Motivations in the Charitable Endeavour, c. 1100–c. 1650,” in Experiences of Charity, 1250–1650, ed. Anne M. Scott (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2015), 1–14.

  71. 71. Fantazzi and Matheeussen, “Introduction,” in Vives, De subventione pauperum, x–xi. See also Juan Luis Vives, The Origins of Modern Welfare: Juan Luis Vives, De Subventione Pauperum, and City of Ypres, Forma Subventionis Pauperum, trans. with notes and commentary by Paul Spicker (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), and Juan Luis Vives, On Assistance to the Poor, trans. with introduction and commentary by Alice Tobriner (Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Renaissance Society of America, 1999).

  72. 72. Vives, De subventione pauperum, 97.

  73. 73. Vives, De subventione pauperum, 105.

  74. 74. See the state of the question in Scott, “Experiences of Charity,” 1–14.

  75. 75. “diverse gebreken aende vrouwe ende nonne[n] des voirseiden gasthuys. soe int onderhouden van huer religie. Regule en[de] drie geloften bij hen geproffesijt. Soe oic int besor[g]h. dienst. en[de] bewaringhe. vanden siecke[n] aldair ligghende. ende sunderlinge mede inde vuytwindinheit. en[de] manieren van huen habijten te draghene. meer nader weerelt dan nader religien.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1r.

  76. 76. “Nochtans en hadden sij dat alsoe nijet gedae[n] noch achteruolght. maer ware[n] dair jnne seere gebreckelic geweest en[de] noch sijn. hadden oick nijet allee[n] die voirseide statute[n]. ende ordinancien”; “dat oick de selve vrouwe ende nonnen dat alsoe nae huer beste hadde[n] beloeft te doen.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1v.

  77. 77. “Maer huer religie en[de] discipline int voirseide gasthuys bynne[n] onsen tijde[n] meer v[er]acht. vergheten. en[de] achter gelaten. en[de] he[m] qualicker inder armen dienst gequeten dan te vore[n]. alle ten swaren last. en[de] perijckel van hure[n] sielen. en[de] ten grooten achterdeele. en[de] schade des voirseide[n] gasthuys. en[de] ongerief vanden armen. en[de] siecken.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1v.

  78. 78. Naemlyst der Zusters van O.-L.-V. Gasthuisder Zusters van O.-L.-V. Gasthuis, sedert hare Stichting, binnen Mechelen (Mechelen: H. Dierickx-Beke, 1862), 4. The original list, from which the published version was produced, remains in the possession of the sisters who were professed at the community before its dissolution in 1992. I thank Sister Myriam for showing it to me in 2014 and Louis Van Buggenhout for facilitating our conversation. The hofje is inv. BH/3, Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed; see below for inscriptions in the hofje that identify the figures.

  79. 79. It is not known precisely where the hofjes were displayed, but perhaps they were in the nuns’ choir adjacent to the church proper, which is evidenced in a nineteenth-century plan of the hospital (SAM C 8018; see the detail reproduced as fig. 9 above). The plan and structures were modified occasionally, as, for instance, when the infirmary was enlarged in the second half of the sixteenth century. See the discussion by Jaak Ockeley, “Het Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis te Mechelen van de stichting tot het begin van de negentiende eeuw,” in 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, 7–23, with an overview of the plan illustrated on p. 5. See also Ockeley’s study on the hospital in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which includes some material on the period under consideration here: De gasthuiszusters en hun ziekenzorg in het aarsbisdom Mechelen in de 17de en de 18de eeuw: Bijdrage tot de studie van de actieve vrouwelijke kloostercongregaties (Brussels: Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique, 1992).

  80. 80. Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent, 115. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575 Baert’s discussion of sensory experience built on Rudy’s interest in this issue, particularly in regard to smell and touch invoked by the gardens’ floral adornments. See Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 20–25; and “’An Odour. A Taste. A Touch. Impossible to Describe,’” 142–45.

  81. 81. Eichberger, Leben mit Kunst, 397–99, with documentation.

  82. 82. AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fols. 19r–19v.

  83. 83. I found no evidence of hofjes or their materials in the following registers: SAM OCMW 8797 (1494–1507), 8798 (1507–11), 8799 (1511–18), 8800 (1518–23), 8801 (1523–26), 8802 (1533), 8803 (1534–37), 8804 (1537–43), and 8805 (1543–54). Registers for the years 1527–32 are not present in the archive. My thanks to De Ware Vrienden of the Archief for helping me to navigate the books.

  84. 84. Personal correspondence with Kathryn Rudy.

  85. 85. Officially on October 19, 1520, with permission granted by Charles V. See SAM, OCMW 8763, with reference in a historical account of the hospital titled, “Onze Lieve Vrouwgasthuis te Mechelen,” 206, composed anonymously by its sisters in the early twentieth century. I thank Wim Hüsken and Gerrit Vanden Bosch for providing me with copies of the manuscript.

  86. 86. SAM, OCMW 8800, fol. 74v: “It[em] beth[aelt] van eender nieuwen croone[n] ghemaect van wasse ende bloemen die inden reefter hanct bove[n] de tafele xii st[uiver]s (Item, paid for a new crown, made of wax and flowers, which hangs in the refectory above the table, 12 stuivers).” Translation by De Ware Vrienden of the Archief.

  87. 87. Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, inv. BH/1, as evidenced by carved recesses for hinges, now missing, in the exterior lateral sides of the cabinet.

  88. 88. The conservation team is led by Joke Vandermeersch and Lieve Watteeuw. The first results of the project are discussed in a forthcoming article: Joke Vandermeersch and Lieve Watteeuw, “De conservering van de 16de-eeuwse Mechelse Besloten Hofjes: Een interdisciplinaire aanpak voor historische mixed media,” in Postprints 8ste BRK-APROA/Onroerend Erfgoed Colloquium: Innovatie in de conservatie-restauratie (Brussels, November 12–13, 2015). I thank Joke Vandermeersch for providing the citation.

  89. 89. In 2013 the hofjes were installed in the Huis De Zalm in Mechelen in ways that limited visual and physical access. Additional stamps will perhaps emerge under different conditions.

  90. 90. An example of the drie palen of Mechelen appears in Crab, Het Brabants Beeldsnijcentrum Leuven, 62, pl. 19. See also Lynn F. Jacobs, Early Netherlandish Carved Altarpieces, 1380–1550: Medieval Tastes and Mass Marketing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), esp. 155–61.

  91. 91. Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, inv. BH/3. I presented aspects of this argument at “Early Modern Women: New Perspectives,” a conference held at the University of Miami in 2013; at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference in 2013; and at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 2014. An essay on this hofje is in progress.

  92. 92. “Zuster cornelia andries vander Reformatien die ierste moeder; Heer peeter van Steenwinckele vander reformation die ierste rintmeester die gebuerde altera innocentū anno xvc viii; Zuster sozijne van Coolen[e] vander Reformatien die ierste zuster; Heer marten avonts priestere vander Reformatien die tweede Rintmeestere (Sister Cornelia Andries, the first mother of the reform; Sir Peeter van Steenwinckel, the first financial steward of the reform, which was begun on the Day of the Innocents in the year 1508; Sister Sozijne van Coolene, the first sister of the reform; Sir Marten Avonts, priest of the reform and second financial steward).”

  93. 93. The names “Catharien Van den Putte” and “Catelyn Van den Putte” appear with their dates of profession in Naemlyst, 5–6.

  94. 94. As conveyed to me by Joke Vandermeersch.

  95. 95. Letter of 1519 from Fr. Bernardinus de Senis, cited in AAM, “Onze Lieve Vrouwgasthuis te Mechelen,” 206.

  96. 96. For the monastic context, see John Van Engen, Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 157–61. See also Andrea Pearson, Envisioning Gender in Burgundian Devotional Art, 1350–1530: Experience, Authority, Resistance (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2005), esp. 90–135.

Archival and Manuscript Sources

Mechelen, Archief van het Aartsbisdom Mechelen-Brussel (AAM). Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509. Statutes of reform, May 17, 1509. “Onze Lieve Vrouwgasthuis te Mechelen.” Manuscript. Historical account of the history of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis composed by unidentified sisters, early twentieth century.

Mechelen, Stadsarchief (SAM). Archief van de COO. OCMW 3094. Testament of Jacob Van den Putte and Margaretha Svos, April 9, 1524. OCMW 3102. Testament of Jacob Van den Putte and Margaretha Svos, April 9, 1527 [1526]. OCMW 8763. Rights of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis to property left by the deceased, October 19, 1520. OCMW 8797-8805. Rekeningen (financial registers), Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, 1494–1554 (registers for 1527–32 are absent). OCMW 8775. Pitantieboek, Heilige Geesttafel van Hanswijk, 1523.

The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 71 G 53 (prayer book).

Heverlee (Leuven), Abdij van Park, Ms. 18 (prayer book).

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Yoshikawa, Naoë Kukita. “The Virgin in the Hortus conclusus: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul.” Medieval Feminist Forum 50, no. 1 (2014): 11–32.

List of Illustrations

Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?) (center cabinet), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 1 Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Ursula, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, 1513–24 (?) (center cabinet), polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wax, wire, and other materials in a wood case, 134 x 97.5 x 22.2 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. GHZ BH/2, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen (artwork in the public domain)
Fig. 2 Bone relic of the 11,000 virgin martyrs labeled, “This comes from the bones of the 11,000 martyred [virgins] (Dit es tghebennte vande[n] xim merteleere[n])” (detail of fig. 1), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002679, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 3 Detail fig. of 1.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 6-left Left-hand wing (Jacob Van den Putte with Saint James the Greater) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002659, photos: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 6-right Right-hand wing (Margaretha Svos and Maria Van den Putte with Saint Margaret of Antioch) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché and X002660, photos: Jean-Luc Elias
G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 8 G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber primus (Cologne, 1574) Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, B.6522
G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 8-detail G. Braun and F. Hogenberg, Plan of the City of Mechelen, from Civitates Orbis Terrarum, Liber primus (Cologne, 1574) 1) Residence of Jacob Van den Putte and Margaretha Svos, on Hanswijkstraat at the corner of Potterijstraat. 2) Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis. Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, B.6522
Attributed to the Master of Antwerp, Christ Heals Two Blind Men and a Mad Man, from Lud, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Fig. 11 Attributed to the Master of Antwerp, Christ Heals Two Blind Men and a Mad Man, from Ludolph of Saxony, Tboeck vanden leven ons heeren Jesu Christi (The book of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ) (Zwolle (?), 1485–91). Hand-colored woodcut, 9.2 x 12.4 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. RP-P-1961-717
Master of Alkmaar, Polyptych with the Seven Works of Charity, 1504, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 12 Master of Alkmaar, Polyptych with the Seven Works of Charity, 1504, oil on panel, 119.1 x 469.5 cm (with frame). Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2815, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop (artwork in the public domain)
Master of Alkmaar, Distributing Bread to the Blind and Needy (detail , Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 13 Distributing Bread to the Blind and Needy (detail of fig. 12), oil on panel, 103.5 cm _ 55 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2815-1 (artwork in the public domain)
Circle of Master of the Figdor Deposition, (Utrecht), Crucifixion (detail), 1505, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt and the Commissie voor Fotoverkoop
Fig. 14 Circle of Master of the Figdor Deposition, (Utrecht), Crucifixion (detail), 1505, oil on panel, 104.1 cm _ 84.9 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. SK-A-2212 (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Netherlandish, Christ and the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane, f, 1521, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague
Fig. 15 Netherlandish, Christ and the Soul in the Garden of Gethsemane, from Die geestelicke boomgaert der vruchten daer die devote siel haer versadicht vanden vruchten der passien Christi (The spiritual fruit garden where the devout soul is satiated with the fruit of Christ’s Passion), woodcut from an edition printed in Utrecht by Jan Bernsten, 1521. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, inv. 150 G 44, fol. 17r
Unknown Mechelen, Christ Child, ca. 1500, Staatliches Museum, Schwerin, Schloss Güstrow
Fig. 16 Mechelen, Christ Child, ca. 1500, polychromed wood, gold, alabaster, velvet, ermine, pearls, and other materials, h. 30.5 cm . Schwerin, Staatliches Museum, Schloss Güstrow. © Staatliches Museum Schwerin, photo: Hugo Maertens (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Netherlandish (?), The Hand as the Mirror of Salvation, 1466, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection
Fig. 17 Netherlandish (?), The Hand as the Mirror of Salvation, 1466, hand-colored woodcut, 39.138.9 x 2726.8 cm . Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection, inv. 1943.3.639 (artwork in the public domain)
Jan Mombaer, Chiropsalterium (Handpsalter), from Rosetum exerci, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Music Division
Fig. 18 Jan Mombaer, Chiropsalterium (Handpsalter), from Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum (Rosary of spiritual exercises and sacred meditations) (Zwolle, 1510), woodcut, 19.7 x 14.5 cm. Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Music Division, ML171.M19 Case, n.p. [AaL2] (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen, Jawbone relic labeled, “This is from the bones o, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 21 Jawbone relic labeled, “This is from the bones of the 11,000 virgins (Dit es ghebe[e]nte vande[n] xim mechde[n]),” (detail of fig. 1)
Hans Memling, Saint Ursula Shrine, 1489, St. John’s Hospital, Bruges
Fig. 22 Hans Memling, Saint Ursula Shrine, 1489, oil and gilt on wood, 9991.5 x 91.599.2 x 41.5 cm. Bruges, St. John’s Hospital, © Lukas – Art in Flanders VZW, photo Hugo Maertens, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje (central cabinet), ca. 1525–28, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 24 Mechelen, Crucifixion Hofje (central cabinet), ca. 1525–28, polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wire, paint, and other materials in a wood case, 109 x 89.7 x 19.5 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/3, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008410, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, a, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 25 Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ Child (Sint-Anna-ten-drieën), Saint Augustine, and Saint Elisabeth (center cabinet), 1529 (?), polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wax, wire, and other materials in a wood case, 150 x 120 x 38 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/6, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008403, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), “Drie palen” stamps from central cabinets of B, ca. 1525–28, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 26-leftDrie palen” stamps from central cabinets of Besloten Hofjes. Left: Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, BH/3, stamp located on the right-hand exterior of the cabinet.
Unknown Mechelen, “Drie palen” stamps from central cabinets of B, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 26-rightDrie palen” stamps from central cabinets of Besloten Hofjes. Right: Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, BH/6, stamp located on the left-hand exterior of the cabinet
Unknown, Crucifixion Hofje, overview of center cabinet and ,
Fig. 27 Crucifixion Hofje, overview of center cabinet and wings, oil on panel, 109 x 151.5 x 19.5 cm (see fig. 2423),. © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008410, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown, Crucifixion Hofje, exterior wings, (see fig. 2423),
Fig. 28 Crucifixion Hofje, exterior wings, oil on panel, 109 x 89.7 cm (see fig. 2423), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KM009587, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, a, 1529 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 29 Besloten Hofje with Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ Child (Sint-Anna-ten-drieën), Saint Augustine, and Saint Elisabeth, overview of center cabinet and wings, 150 x 120 x 38 cm, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008402, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (see fig. 25)
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 4 Overview of center cabinet (see fig. 1) and wings, oil on panel, 134 x 188.5 x 22.2 cm.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, 1513–24 (?), Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 5 Right-hand wing (Maria Van den Putte) (detail of fig. 4), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002660, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Hans Memling, Triptych of Willem Moreel and Barbara Van Valender, 1484, Groeninge Museum, Bruges
Fig. 7 Hans Memling, Triptych of Willem Moreel and Barbara Van Valenderberch, 1484, oil on panel, (center) 141 x 174 cm, (wings) 141 x 87 cm . Bruges, Groeninge Museum, 0000.GRO0091.I-0095.I , © Lukas – Art in Flanders VZW, photo Hugo Maertens, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown, Plan of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, Mechelen (detai, Stadsarchief, Mechelen, beeldbankmechelen.be
Fig. 9 Plan of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, Mechelen (detail). Mechelen, Stadsarchief, beeldbankmechelen.be, iconografische verzameling C 8018.
Unknown Mechelen, Besloten Hofje with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Sa, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, Brussels; on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 10 Wax medallion with the Resurrection, dated 1513 (detail of fig. 1), © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché X002683, photo: Jean-Luc Elias
Unknown German, Jocasta and Oedipus, from Giovanni Boccaccio, De m, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection
Fig. 19 German, Jocasta and Oedipus, from Giovanni Boccaccio, De mulieribus claris, (Ulm: Johann Zainer, 1473), woodcut, chap. 23 . Washington, D.C., Library of Congress, Rosenwald Collection, Incun. 1473.B7, fol. 25v (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown North Netherlands or Flanders, Immaculate Virgin, ca. 1480–1500, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, purchased with the support of the Frits en Phine Verhaaff Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds
Fig. 20 North Netherlands or Flanders, Immaculate Virgin, ca. 1480–1500, ivory with traces of polychrome, h. 11.3 cm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv. BK-2008-69, purchased with the support of the Frits en Phine Verhaaff Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds (artwork in the public domain)
Unknown Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje, ca. 1510–30, Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen
Fig. 23 Mechelen (?), Crucifixion Hofje, ca. 1510–30, polychromed wood, silk, paper, bone, wire, paint, and other materials in a wood case, 158.5 x 139 x 33 cm. Musea & Erfgoed Mechelen, inv. BH/1, Collectie Gasthuiszusters, Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Waver, on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen, © KIK-IRPA, Brussels, www.kikirpa.be, cliché KN008407, photo: Jean-Luc Elias (artwork in the public domain).
Sisters at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-ten-Troost, Vilvoorde, Christ Falling under the Cross, 1500–20, The British Museum, London
Fig. 30 Sisters at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe-ten-Troost, Vilvoorde, Christ Falling under the Cross, 1500–20, hand-colored woodcut print, 10.7 x 7.5 cm. London, The British Museum, © The Trustees of the British Museum, inv. 1895,0122.5 (artwork in the public domain)

Footnotes

  1. 1. Most of the relics are wrapped with bits of paper and wire; many are labeled with authentiques, small paper banderoles with inscriptions that declare the objects’ authenticity.

  2. 2. See E. Ann Matter, The Voice of My Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), xxiv–xxv.

  3. 3. Among the first to use the term, although in its French counterpart Jardin clos, was Camille Poupeye, “Les jardins clos et leurs rapports avec la sculpture Malinoise,” Bulletin du Cercle archéologique, littéraire et artistique de Malines 22 (1912): 50–114. See also, in addition to the publications cited below, Felix Marcus, “Die Mechelener ‘Jardin Clos,’” Der Cicerone: Halbmonatsschrift für die Interessen des Kunstforschers & Sammlers, ed. Georg Biermann (Leipzig: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1913), 98–101; Albert Marinus, “Le Jardin Clos,” in Le Folklore Belge (Brussels: Les éditions historiques/Turnhout: Brepols, 1937), 3:234–57; and Paul Dony, “Les ‘Jardins Clos,’” Ecclesia 98 (May 1957): 119–26. Not every work described as a Besloten hofje is equipped with a fence in the lower foreground, yet I would suggest that its absence would not preclude beholders from reading the work as an enclosed garden.

  4. 4. Recent studies on Netherlandish visual practices in a devotional context include Andrea Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire: The Infants Christ and St. John the Baptist in Early Netherlandish Art,” Art History 38, no. 3 (2015): 434–61; Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, In the Footsteps of Christ: Hans Memling’s Passion Narratives and the Devotional Imagination in the Early Modern Netherlands (Turnhout: Brepols: 2013); Ingrid Falque, “Portraits de dévots, pratiques religieuses et expérience spirituelle dans la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas (1400–1550)” (PhD diss., University of Liège, 2009), to be published in revised form as Devotional Portraiture and Spiritual Experience in Early Netherlandish Painting (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming); John Decker, The Technology of Salvation and the Art of Geertgen tot Sint Jans (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009); essays in Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. R. L. Falkenburg, W. S. Melion, and T. M. Richardson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007); and two works by Bret Rothstein, Sight and Spirituality in Early Netherlandish Painting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) and “Gender and the Configuration of Early Netherlandish Devotional Skill,” in Women and Portraits in Early Modern Europe: Gender, Agency, Identity, ed. Andrea Pearson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 15–34.

  5. 5. I am grateful to Wim Hüsken for drawing this possibility to my attention during a conversation in 2013 at the Huis De Zalm in Mechelen, where the hofje was temporarily displayed. The sister does not seem to have the same affliction as any of the figures in Pieter Bruegel’s Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind (1569). See Zeynel A. Karcioglu, “Ocular Pathology in The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind and Other Paintings by Pieter Bruegel,” Survey of Ophthamology 47, no. 1 (Jan.–Feb. 2002): 55–62. Her visage may indicate that she suffers from microphthalmia, a disorder in which the eyeballs are atypically small. I am grateful to Dr. Charles Pearson, O.D., for this information.

  6. 6. Allison P. Hobgood and David Houston Wood, for example, have called for more work that “determine[s] how, precisely, medieval people viewed disability and how they rectified their religious views with the reality of corporeal difference.” Allison P. Hobgood and David Houston Wood, eds., Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2013), 14. I am aware that some authors use the terms disability and impairment differently, as does Irina Metzler in Disability in Medieval Europe: Thinking about Physical Impairment during the High Middle Ages, c. 1100–1400 (New York: Routledge, 2006) and A Social History of Disability in the Middle Ages: Cultural Considerations of Physical Impairment (New York: Routledge, 2013). A critique is offered by Joshua R. Eyler, ed., Disability in the Middle Ages: Reconsiderations and Reverberations (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2010). For a historical overview of disability issues in the Netherlands, see Ben Wuyts, Over Narren, Kreupelen, Doven en Blinden: Leven met een Handicap, van de Oudheid tot Nu (Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2005).

  7. 7. Paul Vandenbroeck, “Tu m’effleures,” in Hooglied: De beeldwereld van religieuze vrouwen in de Zuidelijke Nederlanden, vanaf de 13de eeuw/Le jardin clos de l’ame: L’imaginaire des religieuses dans les Pays-Bas du Sud depuis le 13e siècle, ed. Paul Vandenbroeck, exh. cat. (Brussels: Paleis voor Schone Kunsten/Martial et Snoeck, 1994), 91–104. The relationship of the hofjes to conventual cloistering and paradise as discussed by Vandenbroeck were taken up again by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Petra Marx, and Susan Marti, “The Time of the Orders, 1200–1500: An Introduction,” in Crown and Veil: Female Monasticism from the Fifth to the Fifteenth Centuries, ed. Jeffrey F. Hamburger and Susan Marti (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 59–61. See also Erik Vandamme, “Het ‘Besloten Hofje’ in het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten te Antwerpen: Bijdrage tot de studie van de kunstnijverheid in de provinciale Zuidnederlandse centra omstreeks 1500,” in Archivum Artis Lovaniense: Bijdragen tot de Geschiedenis van de Kunst der Nederlanden; Opgedragen aan Prof. Em. Dr. J. K. Steppe, ed. Maurits Smeyers (Leuven: Peeters, 1981), 143–49.

  8. 8. Barbara Baert, with an epilogue by Lise De Greff, “The Glorified Body,” in Backlit Heaven: Power and Devotion in the Archdiocese of Mechelen (Tielt: Lannoo, 2009), 140–41. Essays from Hoogleid (see above, note 7): Luce Irigaray, “La voie du féminin, 155–65; Julia Kristeva, “Le Bonheur des beguines,” 167–77; and Birgit Pelzer, “Reliquats,” 179–203. Historicizing the hofjes offers an alternative to the psychoanalytic model, which presumes a universal female experience independent of the historical moment. See the critique of the essays in Hooglied by Liz James, “Hysterical (Hi)stories of Art,” Oxford Art Journal 18, no.1 (1995): 143–47, who wrote: “How foolish of me to think that feminist theory had got us past the stage where the woman is mystical, emotional, spiritual, and hysterical” and “[i]t is considerably easier to describe female spirituality as wild and free . . . than it is to consider medieval holy women in the context of their time” (145).

  9. 9. Barbara Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces: Revisiting the Late Mediaeval ‘Enclosed Gardens’ of the Low Countries (A Hermeneutical Contribution to Chthonic Artistic Expression),” Jaarboek Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (2012): 40. See also Barbara Baert, “‘An Odour. A Taste. A Touch. Impossible to Describe’: Noli Me Tangere and the Senses,” in Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe, ed. Wietse de Boer and Christine Göttler (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 142–45; and Late Medieval Enclosed Gardens of the Low Countries: Contributions to Gender and Artistic Expression (Leuven: Peeters, 2016), which was published just as the present essay went to press.

  10. 10. Kathryn M. Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent: Imagining Jerusalem in the Late Middle Ages (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 110–18 and 257–58. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575

  11. 11. As discussed by W. Godenne, “Préliminaires à l’inventaire général des statuettes d’origine malinoise, présumées des 15e et 16e siècles,” Handelingen van de Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen 61 (1957): 110–16; A. Jansen, “Losse nota’s over de merktekens op de Mechelse beeldjes (15e–16e eeuwen),” Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheldkunde Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen 66 (1962): 148–56; R. de Roo, “Mechelse Beeldhouwkunst,” in Aspekten van de laatgotiek in Brabant: Tentoonstelling ingericht door de Intercommunale Interleuven ter gelegenheid van haar vijfjarig bestaan (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum, 1971), 420–62; Jan Crab, Het Brabants Beeldsnijcentrum Leuven (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum Leuven, 1977); and Jan Crab, Het laatgotische beeldsnijcentrum Leuven: Tentoonstelling, Leuven, Stedelijk Museum, 6 oktober–2 december 1979 (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum, 1979). The figures of saints Elizabeth of Hungary, Ursula, and Catherine of Alexander in the hofje addressed here are stamped on their socles, indicating their professional production in the city. The stamps are the letter M and Doermael, probably the name of a Mechelen woodcarver. See Het laatgotische beeldsnijcentrum Leuven, no. XX.15, 421–23; and Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 49.

  12. 12. Aspects of this argument are proposed in different ways by, for instance, Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 49; Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 11; and Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent, 112–18. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575

  13. 13. Horst Appuhn, “Die Paradiesgärtlein des Klosters Ebstorf,” Lüneburger Blätter 19–20 (1968–69): 27–39.

  14. 14. Hartmut Krohm, “Reliquienpräsentation und Blumengarten: Kunstgeschichtliche Bemerkungen zu den Schreinen in Kloster Bentlage,” Westfalen 77 (1999): 23–52.

  15. 15. Dagmar Eichberger, Leben mit Kunst, Wirken durch Kunst: Sammelwesen und Hofkunst unter Margarete von Österreich, Regentin der Niederlande (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002), 397–99.

  16. 16. The community, founded in the thirteenth century, was dissolved in 1992. The hospital’s history was addressed most recently in an exhibition catalogue, 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis: Uit het erfgoed van de Mechelse gasthuiszusters en het OCMW (Mechelen: Stedelijke Musea, 1998), with a bibliography of previous studies on 94–97.

  17. 17. The works have been discussed together by Stéphane Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” in 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, 49–57. They are on long-term loan from the Augustinian Sisters of Mechelen to the Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, where they have been assigned inventory numbers of BH/1–BH/7. Two small recesses in each lateral side of the cabinet numbered BH/1 strongly suggest that wings were once hinged to this hofje, which is the largest and most frequently discussed example from the hospital. The right-hand wing of BH/7, dated 1539, includes a portrait of a kneeling male lay worshipper; the contents of the cabinet were replaced later, probably in the eighteenth century. An eighth hofje, BH/8, which dates to the nineteenth century, was also in the possession of the hospital sisters; see Backlit Heaven (see note 8 above), fig. 182. Two of the sixteenth-century works, BH/2 and BH/3, can be tied with relative certainty to the hospital during the era in which they were produced: they include portrait wings that depict identifiable individuals associated with the community at the time. One of these, BH/2, is discussed in the present study. BH/3 is the subject of a separate essay I am preparing for publication (portions of the argument are summarized below). The wings of BH/4 and BH/5 depict saints; portraits are not included.

  18. 18. In addition to studies cited elsewhere in this essay, medieval Christian holy matter has received attention recently by Christy Anderson, Anne Dunlop, and Pamela H. Smith, eds., The Matter of Art: Materials, Practices, Cultural Logics, c. 1250–1750 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015); Sara Ritchey, Holy Matter: Changing Perceptions of the Material World in Late Medieval Christianity (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014) https://doi.org/10.7591/cornell/9780801452536.001.0001; and Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe (New York: Zone Books, 2011).

  19. 19. See, for instance, Poupeye, “Les jardins clos,” 79, and Vandenberghe, “Besloten Hofjes,” 54, no. 49.

  20. 20. The statutes are preserved in Mechelen at the Archief van het Aartsbisdom Mechelen-Brussel (hereafter AAM), Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509. The passage referred to here is: “Neither novices nor professed sisters will be allowed to wear anything made of gold, silver, or silk, inside their habit or on top of it, so that all wealth is eschewed (En selen noch novicie[n]. noch geprofessyde. moighen hebben in hen abyt noch over hen draghen yet gewracht van goude silvere oft int syde[n]. om alle curieusheit te schouwene),” fol. 7r. My thanks to Gerrit Vanden Bosch, archivist at the AAM, for his assistance with accessing and interpreting this and other documents in the archive, and to Joni de Mol for providing an initial transcription of the preface of the statutes and for improving my translations that appear below. The original act of reform with the seal of Jacob de Croÿ, bishop of Cambrai, is preserved at the Stadsarchief Mechelen (hereafter SAM), with no catalog number. The AAM statues cited here are written in an early-sixteenth century hand and likely were in the possession of the hospital sisters in that period.

  21. 21. After reaching this conclusion I found the same hypothesis in W. H. James Weale, Catalogue des objets d’art religieux du moyen âge, de la renaissance et des temps modernes: Exposés à l’Hotel Liedekerke à Malines, Septembre 1864 (Brussels: Charles Lelong, 1864), 38, no. 213. Weale’s proposal, made over a century ago, disappeared from the literature, perhaps because it was difficult to imagine how or why a triptych representing laypersons would be present in a community of professed sisters, despite the semipublic nature of their work with the infirm.

  22. 22. On names and naming in the later Middle Ages, see R. N. Swanson, Religion and Devotion in Europe, c. 1215–c. 1515 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 168–70.

  23. 23. The couple’s testament was signed and notarized on April 9, 1524, “in the city of Mechelen, at our house that stands on Hanswijkstraat at the corner of Potterijstraat (inder stadt van Mechelen ten huyse van en selven ouders staende inde Hanswijck strate opden hoeck van de Putterijen).” SAM, OCMW 3094. My appreciation to Willy Hendrickx, Willem Miseur, and François van der Jeught, of De Ware Vrienden van het Archief, for transcribing and talking with me about this document, and about SAM, OCMW 3102 (schepenbrief) and 8804 (register) cited below. I thank Willy van de Vijver and the SAM staff for permitting access to these and other materials at the archive, and De Ware Vrienden for helping me to better understand the organization and content of the hospital’s registers.

  24. 24. “These are donations and interest [receipts] belonging to the Holy Ghost of Hanswijk, for which this book was made and maintained by Jacob Van den Putte and Jacob de Vos, masters of the Holy Ghost, in the year of our lord 1523 (Dits den chijs en[de] de rente toebehoere[n]de heyligen gheest va[n] hanswijc. waer af dit boeck ghemaect en[de] v[er]nieut bi Jacob va[n]de[n] putte en[de] Jacob de Vos heylichgeestmeest[er]s Int Jaer o[n]s hee[re]n xvc̣ en[de] xxiii).” SAM, P. Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Hanswijk, Serie 1, no. 3, fol. 1 (numbered 5 in the upper right-hand corner).

  25. 25. SAM, OCMW 3094.

  26. 26. SAM, OCMW 3102. The children’s names are, in addition to Maria, Jacob and Jan.

  27. 27. SAM, OCMW 8804, f. 109r.

  28. 28. I have found no evidence for patronage and gifting in the materials at SAM or the AAM.

  29. 29. “[the] sculpture that was standing in the nuns’ refectory ([de] beelde. dat sij nonne[n] reefter hebben staende).” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 9v.

  30. 30. Falque, “Portraits de dévots, pratiques religieuses,” 104–5. Portraits that depict devotees with closed or nearly closed eyes are: the Master of the von Groote Adoration’s Triptych of the Lamentation (Vienna, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie des bildenden Künste), the Master of Frankfurt’s Triptych of the Humbracht Family (Frankfurt, Städelsches Kunstinstitut), and Joos van Ghent’s Crucifixion with a Family at Prayer (Madrid, Collection Herreros de Tejada). A few other examples depict a worshipper looking down at a holy figure such that the eyes can seem closed but probably are not, as in a south-Netherlandish painting, The Nativity with a Monk in Prayer (Philadelphia, Lasalle University Art Museum). I thank Dr. Falque for sharing images and information from her catalogue with me.

  31. 31. I thank Ingrid Falque for this suggestion.

  32. 32. Ludolph of Saxony’s Tboeck was widely read prior to the production of the hofje: it was published in four editions in Antwerp alone between 1487 and 1510.

  33. 33. For examples of this iconography, see Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), vol. 2, figs. VI.46–47; and David S. Areford, The Art of Empathy: The Mother of Sorrows in Northern Renaissance Art and Devotion (London and Jacksonville, Fla.: GILES for the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, 2013), 26, fig. 19. For Longinus, see Louis Réau, Iconographie de l’Art Chrétien, vol. 3, pt. 2, Iconographie des Saints (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958), 812–15.

  34. 34. The IRR study was unveiled at a special showing of hofjes at the Museum Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen on January 11, 2017. My thanks to Lieve Watteeuw for discussing the results of the study with me.

  35. 35. My thanks to Kim Butler Wingfield for drawing this connection to my attention.

  36. 36. As in, for example, the right-hand wing of Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Altarpiece of ca. 1475 (Florence, Uffizi).

  37. 37. Such tensions are discussed further in Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire (see note 4 above).

  38. 38. Lindsey Row-Heyveld, “‘The lying’st knave in Christendom’: The Development of Disability in the False Miracle of St. Alban’s,” Disability Studies Quarterly 29, no. 4 (Fall 2009): n.p.: http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/994/1178.

  39. 39. J. P. Filedt Kok, “De zeven werken van barmhartigheid, Meester van Alkmaar, 1504,” Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.9048; and Henk van Os et al., Netherlandish Art in the Rijksmuseum: 1400–1600 (Zwolle: Waanders, 2000), 15–16 and 82–83.

  40. 40. Larry Silver and Henry Luttikhuizen, “The Quality of Mercy: Representations of Charity in Early Netherlandish Art,” Studies in Iconography 29 (2008): 216–48 (inscription on 223).

  41. 41. New work in medieval disability studies is revealing that both positive and negative perspectives on disabilities and the disabled sat side-by-side, as discussed by Eyler in the introduction to Disability in the Middle Ages (see note 6 above)1–8. The visual evidence presented here, which has yet to be tapped by historians of disability, supports this claim.

  42. 42. Augustine, The Trinity (De Trinitate), trans. with introduction and notes by Edmund Hill (Brooklyn, N.Y.: New City Press, 1991), XI.i.2. For a recent analysis of medieval writings on the senses, including Augustine’s, see Éric Palazzo, L’ invention chrétienne des cinq sens dans la liturgie et l’art au Moyen âge (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2014), 59–90.

  43. 43. Augustine’s argument cannot be addressed in depth here. For a recent analysis with additional bibliography, see Eugene Vance, “Seeing God: Augustine, Sensation, and the Mind’s Eye,” in Rethinking the Medieval Senses: Heritage/Fascinations/Frames, ed. Stephen G. Nichols, Andreas Kablitz, and Alison Calhoun (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 13–29; and Alice E. Sanger and Siv Tove Kulbrandstad Walker, eds., Sense and the Senses in Early Modern Art and Cultural Practice (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2012), 1–16.

  44. 44. See the discussion by Edward Wheatley, “‘Blind’ Jews and Blind Christians: The Metaphorics of Marginalization,” chap. 3, in Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind: Medieval Constructs of Disability (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 63–89 with notes on 237–43 https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.915892. See also Moche Barasch, Blindness: The Story of a Mental Image in Western Thought (New York: Routledge, 2001), and Kahren Jones Hellerstedt, “The Blind Man and His Guide in Early Netherlandish Painting,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 13 (1983): 163–81.

  45. 45. For a deeper discussion of the complex imagery of the Rohan Hours miniatures, and the moralizing text paired with them, see Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:114–15.

  46. 46. Mellinkoff, Outcasts, 1:115.

  47. 47. See Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 9–25, for a discussion that draws from different primary sources than those cited here.

  48. 48. Reindert M. Falkenburg, The Fruit of Devotion: Mysticism and the Imagery of Love in Flemish Paintings of the Virgin and Child, 1450–1550 (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 1994), 42–46.

  49. 49. For these practices, see Annette LeZotte, “Cradling Power: Female Devotions and Early Netherlandish Jésueaux,” in Push Me, Pull You: Physical and Spatial Interaction in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art, ed. Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 59–84. My thanks to Dagmar Eichberger for bringing the Christ Child to my attention. Much has been written on art and the women’s monastic context in Germany. See, for example, the studies by Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) and The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books/Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998).

  50. 50. Claire Richter Sherman, Writing on Hands: Memory and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, exh. cat. (Carlisle, Penn.: Dickinson College, Trout Gallery; Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library /Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 64, and Areford, The Art of Empathy, 53.

  51. 51. As interpreted by Sherman, Writing on Hands, 246–47.

  52. 52. Wheatley, “Blinding, Blindness, and Sexual Transgression,” chap. 5 in Stumbling Blocks before the Blind, 129–54 and 248–51. https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.915892

  53. 53. Margaret Franklin, Boccaccio’s Heroines: Power and Virtue in Renaissance Society (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2006), 101, n. 93. For a translation of Boccaccio’s text: Famous Women, ed. Virginia Brown (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001). See also P. F. J. Obbema et al., Boccaccio in Nederland: Tentoonstelling van handschriften en gedrukte werken uit het bezit van Nederlandse bibliotheken ter herdenking van het zeshonderdste sterfjaar van Boccaccio (1313–1375) (Leiden: Academisch Historisch Museum, 1975).

  54. 54. The panel is discussed in “Keuze uit de aanwinsten. I: Paneeltje met Maria Immaculata,” Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum 56, no. 4 (2008): 474–75. The complex associations between garden imagery and sexuality in the early modern Netherlands was discussed recently by Pearson, “Visuality, Morality, and Same-Sex Desire,” 443–45. For an overview of critical issues in the study of enclosed gardens, see Liz Herbert McAvoy, “The Medieval Hortus conclusus: Revisiting the Pleasure Garden,” Medieval Feminist Forum 50, no. 1 (2014): 5–10.

  55. 55. For example, “it benefits religious women to be cut off from the company of secular persons, and particularly from men. Therefore, to avoid a habitual and daily entrance of secular people, as in other, well-regulated convents, divisions shall be made (want den religieusen vrouwen betaept vanden gemeynschape der weerlijcker persoone[n] ende besonder der mannen. afgesneden ende v[er]vrempt te sijne. dair omme om te schouwene den gewoenlijck en daigelijcsschen inganck der weerlijcker personen. na maniere vanden anderen wel gereguleerden conventen. salmen maken slutingen).” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fols. 15r–15v.

  56. 56. Heverlee (Leuven), Abdij van Park, Ms. 18, 115r–125v, transcribed and assigned a provenance with the Geel sisters by Kathryn M. Rudy, “How to Prepare the Bedroom for the Bridegroom,” in Frauen-Kloster-Kunst: Neue Forschungen zur Kulturgeschichte des Mittelalters, ed. Carola Jaeggi, Hedwig Roeckelein, and Jeffrey F. Hamburger (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 369–75. For a manuscript with a Mechelen calendar that may have belonged to a sister at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis in Mechelen (Ms. 71 G 53, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague), see Kathryn M. Rudy, “Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer,” JHNA: Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 2, nos. 1–2 (2010): 8–10, https://doi.org/10.5092/jhna.2010.2.1.1. The reform of the Geel hospital by Mechelen sisters is discussed by Frieda Van Ravensteyn, “Het hospitaal van Geel van zijn ontstaan tot 1552,” in 450 jaar Gasthuiszusters Augustinessen van Geel, ed. Frieda Van Ravensteyn, Michel De Bont, and Jaak Segers (Geel: St.-Dimpna- en Gasthuismuseum, 2002), 14–15.

  57. 57. “[P]ainted with a virginal green (met scoender groender verwen).” Heverlee (Leuven), Abdij van Park, Ms. 18, 115v.

  58. 58. Sharon T. Strocchia, “Introduction” in “Women and Healthcare in Early Modern Europe,” ed. Sharon T. Strocchia, special issue, Renaissance Studies 28, no. 4 (Sept. 2014): 499.

  59. 59. Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa, “The Virgin in the Hortus conclusus: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul,” Medieval Feminist Forum 50, no. 1 (2014): 11–32. For recent perspectives and bibliography on women and healthcare, see Monica Green, “Gendering the History of Women’s Healthcare,” Gender and History 20 (2008): 487–518 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0424.2008.00534.x; Alisha Rankin, “Women in Science and Medicine, 1400–1800,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, ed. Allyson M. Poska, Jane Couchman, and Katherine A. McIver (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2013), 407–21; and Strocchia, “Introduction,” 496–514.

  60. 60. Carole Rawcliffe, “‘Delectable Sightes and Fragrant Smelles’: Gardens and Health in Late Medieval and Early Modern England,” Garden History 37 (2008): 6.

  61. 61. See Falkenburg, The Fruit of Devotion, 42–46, with additional examples.

  62. 62. Yoshikawa, “The Virgin in the Hortus conclusus,” 18.

  63. 63. My thanks to Wim Hüsken for providing access to the hofje at the Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen in July of 2014, which enabled me to catalogue the relics and transcribe the authentiques. Evidence of pin or nail holes in the lateral inner sides of the cabinet indicate that at least these areas of the hofje were subject to manipulation sometime in the past.

  64. 64. Among recent studies on relics are James Robinson and Lloyd de Beer, eds., with Anna Harnden, Matter of Faith: An Interdisciplinary Study of Relics and Relic Veneration in the Medieval Period (London: The British Museum, 2014); Cynthia Hahn, Strange Beauty: Issues in the Making and Meaning of Reliquaries, 400–circa 1204 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012); Charles Freeman, Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); Martina Bagnoli et al., eds., Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, exh. cat. (Cleveland Museum of Art; Baltimore: Walters Art Museum; London: The British Museum/New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010); Backlit Heaven (see note 8 above); and Henk W. van Os, The Way to Heaven: Relic Veneration in the Middle Ages (Baarn: de Prom, 2000), with reference to the Van den Putte hofje on p. 32.

  65. 65. The texts of several authentiques are partly obscured by the garden’s sculptural elements and therefore could not be read in full. The conservation project discussed below will enable the authentiques to be catalogued.

  66. 66. See Jeanne Nuechterlein, “Hans Memling’s St. Ursula Shrine: The Subject as Object of Pilgrimage,” in Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles, ed. Sarah Blick and Rita Tekippe (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 62.

  67. 67. Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 2:259–60.

  68. 68. For rosaries, see John R. Decker, “‘Practical Devotion’: Apotropaism and the Protection of the Soul,” in The Authority of the Word: Reflecting on Image and Text in Northern Europe, 1400–1700, ed. Celeste Brusati, Karl A. E. Enenkel, and Walter S. Melion (Boston: Brill, 2009), 371–75; for coral, see Peter Parshall, ed., The Woodcut in Fifteenth-Century Europe (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2009), 158.

  69. 69. Monica Green, “Bodies, Gender, Health, Disease: Recent Work on Medieval Women’s Medicine,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 4 (2005): 1-46, uses the term “agents of heath” to account for the many ways in which women were active medical providers, including situations such as household illness management in which they did not hold formal positions.

  70. 70. I draw here primarily from the introduction to Juan Luis Vives, De subventione pauperum sive de humanis necessitatibus, Libri II: Introduction, Critical Edition, Translation and Notes, ed. Charles Fantazzi and Constantinus Matheeussen, with the assistance of J. de Landtsheer (Leiden: Brill, 2002). See also Andrew Cunningham and Ole Peter Grell, Health Care and Poor Relief in Protestant Europe1500–1700 (London: Routledge, 1997); Thomas Safley, ed. The Reformation of Charity: The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief (Leiden: Brill, 2003); James Brodman, Charity and Religion in Medieval Europe (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2009); Andrew Brown, “Civic Charity,” in Civic Ceremony and Religion in Medieval Bruges c. 1300–1520 (Cambridge, : Cambridge University Press, 2012), 195–221; Jane Kromm, “The Early Modern Lottery in the Netherlands: Charity as Festival and Parody,” in Parody and Festivity in Early Modern Art: Essays on Comedy as Social Vision, ed. David R. Smith (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate 2012), 51–62; and Anne M. Scott, “Experiences of Charity: Complex Motivations in the Charitable Endeavour, c. 1100–c. 1650,” in Experiences of Charity, 1250–1650, ed. Anne M. Scott (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2015), 1–14.

  71. 71. Fantazzi and Matheeussen, “Introduction,” in Vives, De subventione pauperum, x–xi. See also Juan Luis Vives, The Origins of Modern Welfare: Juan Luis Vives, De Subventione Pauperum, and City of Ypres, Forma Subventionis Pauperum, trans. with notes and commentary by Paul Spicker (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), and Juan Luis Vives, On Assistance to the Poor, trans. with introduction and commentary by Alice Tobriner (Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Renaissance Society of America, 1999).

  72. 72. Vives, De subventione pauperum, 97.

  73. 73. Vives, De subventione pauperum, 105.

  74. 74. See the state of the question in Scott, “Experiences of Charity,” 1–14.

  75. 75. “diverse gebreken aende vrouwe ende nonne[n] des voirseiden gasthuys. soe int onderhouden van huer religie. Regule en[de] drie geloften bij hen geproffesijt. Soe oic int besor[g]h. dienst. en[de] bewaringhe. vanden siecke[n] aldair ligghende. ende sunderlinge mede inde vuytwindinheit. en[de] manieren van huen habijten te draghene. meer nader weerelt dan nader religien.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1r.

  76. 76. “Nochtans en hadden sij dat alsoe nijet gedae[n] noch achteruolght. maer ware[n] dair jnne seere gebreckelic geweest en[de] noch sijn. hadden oick nijet allee[n] die voirseide statute[n]. ende ordinancien”; “dat oick de selve vrouwe ende nonnen dat alsoe nae huer beste hadde[n] beloeft te doen.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1v.

  77. 77. “Maer huer religie en[de] discipline int voirseide gasthuys bynne[n] onsen tijde[n] meer v[er]acht. vergheten. en[de] achter gelaten. en[de] he[m] qualicker inder armen dienst gequeten dan te vore[n]. alle ten swaren last. en[de] perijckel van hure[n] sielen. en[de] ten grooten achterdeele. en[de] schade des voirseide[n] gasthuys. en[de] ongerief vanden armen. en[de] siecken.” AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fol. 1v.

  78. 78. Naemlyst der Zusters van O.-L.-V. Gasthuisder Zusters van O.-L.-V. Gasthuis, sedert hare Stichting, binnen Mechelen (Mechelen: H. Dierickx-Beke, 1862), 4. The original list, from which the published version was produced, remains in the possession of the sisters who were professed at the community before its dissolution in 1992. I thank Sister Myriam for showing it to me in 2014 and Louis Van Buggenhout for facilitating our conversation. The hofje is inv. BH/3, Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed; see below for inscriptions in the hofje that identify the figures.

  79. 79. It is not known precisely where the hofjes were displayed, but perhaps they were in the nuns’ choir adjacent to the church proper, which is evidenced in a nineteenth-century plan of the hospital (SAM C 8018; see the detail reproduced as fig. 9 above). The plan and structures were modified occasionally, as, for instance, when the infirmary was enlarged in the second half of the sixteenth century. See the discussion by Jaak Ockeley, “Het Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis te Mechelen van de stichting tot het begin van de negentiende eeuw,” in 800 jaar Onze-Lieve-Vrouwegasthuis, 7–23, with an overview of the plan illustrated on p. 5. See also Ockeley’s study on the hospital in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which includes some material on the period under consideration here: De gasthuiszusters en hun ziekenzorg in het aarsbisdom Mechelen in de 17de en de 18de eeuw: Bijdrage tot de studie van de actieve vrouwelijke kloostercongregaties (Brussels: Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique, 1992).

  80. 80. Rudy, Virtual Pilgrimages in the Convent, 115. https://doi.org/10.1484/M.DM-EB.5.108575 Baert’s discussion of sensory experience built on Rudy’s interest in this issue, particularly in regard to smell and touch invoked by the gardens’ floral adornments. See Baert, “Echoes of Liminal Spaces,” 20–25; and “’An Odour. A Taste. A Touch. Impossible to Describe,’” 142–45.

  81. 81. Eichberger, Leben mit Kunst, 397–99, with documentation.

  82. 82. AAM, Gasthuiszusters Mechelen 1, Statuten en ordonnanties, 1509, fols. 19r–19v.

  83. 83. I found no evidence of hofjes or their materials in the following registers: SAM OCMW 8797 (1494–1507), 8798 (1507–11), 8799 (1511–18), 8800 (1518–23), 8801 (1523–26), 8802 (1533), 8803 (1534–37), 8804 (1537–43), and 8805 (1543–54). Registers for the years 1527–32 are not present in the archive. My thanks to De Ware Vrienden of the Archief for helping me to navigate the books.

  84. 84. Personal correspondence with Kathryn Rudy.

  85. 85. Officially on October 19, 1520, with permission granted by Charles V. See SAM, OCMW 8763, with reference in a historical account of the hospital titled, “Onze Lieve Vrouwgasthuis te Mechelen,” 206, composed anonymously by its sisters in the early twentieth century. I thank Wim Hüsken and Gerrit Vanden Bosch for providing me with copies of the manuscript.

  86. 86. SAM, OCMW 8800, fol. 74v: “It[em] beth[aelt] van eender nieuwen croone[n] ghemaect van wasse ende bloemen die inden reefter hanct bove[n] de tafele xii st[uiver]s (Item, paid for a new crown, made of wax and flowers, which hangs in the refectory above the table, 12 stuivers).” Translation by De Ware Vrienden of the Archief.

  87. 87. Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, inv. BH/1, as evidenced by carved recesses for hinges, now missing, in the exterior lateral sides of the cabinet.

  88. 88. The conservation team is led by Joke Vandermeersch and Lieve Watteeuw. The first results of the project are discussed in a forthcoming article: Joke Vandermeersch and Lieve Watteeuw, “De conservering van de 16de-eeuwse Mechelse Besloten Hofjes: Een interdisciplinaire aanpak voor historische mixed media,” in Postprints 8ste BRK-APROA/Onroerend Erfgoed Colloquium: Innovatie in de conservatie-restauratie (Brussels, November 12–13, 2015). I thank Joke Vandermeersch for providing the citation.

  89. 89. In 2013 the hofjes were installed in the Huis De Zalm in Mechelen in ways that limited visual and physical access. Additional stamps will perhaps emerge under different conditions.

  90. 90. An example of the drie palen of Mechelen appears in Crab, Het Brabants Beeldsnijcentrum Leuven, 62, pl. 19. See also Lynn F. Jacobs, Early Netherlandish Carved Altarpieces, 1380–1550: Medieval Tastes and Mass Marketing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), esp. 155–61.

  91. 91. Mechelen Musea & Erfgoed, inv. BH/3. I presented aspects of this argument at “Early Modern Women: New Perspectives,” a conference held at the University of Miami in 2013; at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference in 2013; and at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 2014. An essay on this hofje is in progress.

  92. 92. “Zuster cornelia andries vander Reformatien die ierste moeder; Heer peeter van Steenwinckele vander reformation die ierste rintmeester die gebuerde altera innocentū anno xvc viii; Zuster sozijne van Coolen[e] vander Reformatien die ierste zuster; Heer marten avonts priestere vander Reformatien die tweede Rintmeestere (Sister Cornelia Andries, the first mother of the reform; Sir Peeter van Steenwinckel, the first financial steward of the reform, which was begun on the Day of the Innocents in the year 1508; Sister Sozijne van Coolene, the first sister of the reform; Sir Marten Avonts, priest of the reform and second financial steward).”

  93. 93. The names “Catharien Van den Putte” and “Catelyn Van den Putte” appear with their dates of profession in Naemlyst, 5–6.

  94. 94. As conveyed to me by Joke Vandermeersch.

  95. 95. Letter of 1519 from Fr. Bernardinus de Senis, cited in AAM, “Onze Lieve Vrouwgasthuis te Mechelen,” 206.

  96. 96. For the monastic context, see John Van Engen, Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), 157–61. See also Andrea Pearson, Envisioning Gender in Burgundian Devotional Art, 1350–1530: Experience, Authority, Resistance (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2005), esp. 90–135.

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