The Nuns of S. Apollonia and that Virile Castagno!
Camille will be our leader for this article on audience reception, the role of gender in patronage in the Quattrocento, and how style intersects with these two issues in the Last Supper fresco in the fresco of the Refectory of S. Apollonia in Florence. Naturally, I have some questions!
1. Do you agree with the author in assigning the choice of the artist of this fresco to the abbess of A. Apollonia? Is the evidence compelling in your opinion?
2. What were the other functions of the refectory and how did the iconography of the frescoes intersect with the uses of this space?
3. The profusion of females in the Passion scenes above the Last Supper is singled out as having special relevance for the nuns in the convent. Do you think this is true?
4. What is the relationship between women, food, the Eucharist, and Castagno’s rendering of the Last Supper?
5. Do you agree that Castagno’s hard-edged, “virile” style is in a sense a fulfillment of the patron’s wishes for this refectory Last Supper? Why or why not?
6. Why was virility a virtue, as it were, for the nuns of S. Apollonia?
7. In what way did the tenor of Castagno’s fresco correspond to the punishments sometimes endured by the nuns who failed to follow the Benedictine rules?
8. In what way is Mary “present” in the Last Supper according to the author?
9. Do you agree with the author’s reading of the marble panels in the fresco of the Last Supper?
10. Have women always sought a “place setting” at the Last Supper in both art and life? Discuss!