MU logo University of Missouri sitemap | map | parking | directions | contact the museum
Home | Events | Museum Info | Calendar | Education | Exhibitions | Collections | Support
Home | Exhibitions | Online | The Sacred Feminine | The Divine Queen

exhibition bannerThe Divine Queen

Introduction

From antiquity onward, queens and empresses often styled themselves after favorite goddesses and other female figures of power. Art provided an ideal avenue for this means of expression, since the queen could be portrayed in any way that she wished. Whether she was likened to a Graeco-Roman goddess or other holy figure, these portrayals served to strengthen and legitimize her rule.

By identifying herself with a goddess figure, the queen conveyed power and even divine approval of her reign. The goddess with which she identified often represented fertility and/or motherhood, and thus while the queen asserted her power as a ruler, she also reminded the populace of her innate, nurturing tendencies. Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt in the first century BCE, closely allied herself with Isis, an important Egyptian goddess associated with fertility. In political art of the period, Cleopatra was often represented as a personification of Isis herself. Sometimes female rulers assumed only certain characteristics of the goddess. Roman empresses were often represented wearing the wheat crown of the agricultural fertility goddess Ceres, iconography that would have been recognizable to most Roman citizens as a symbol of fecundity. They also favored representations in which they appeared as the goddess Venus, a symbol of fertility and motherhood. Even later Christian queens associated themselves with Graeco-Roman goddesses. Marie de’ Medici compared herself to the Roman Juno, Queen of the Gods and also portrayed herself as a protégée of Minerva (Athena). The fact that pagan deities held such sway even in a monotheistic belief system testifies to their strong associations with strength, wisdom, fertility, and power.

(Use the links on the right to see this online exhibition.)

The Sacred Feminine Links:

The Sacred Mother
- Introduction
- Objects

The Dangerous Feminine
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

Beyond Human: Female Sainthood
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

Models of Knowledge and Power
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

Devotees and Consorts
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

The Divine Queen
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

The Cult of the Virgin
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

Contemporary Interpretations
- Introduction
- Objects (opens new window)

exhibition illustration

Copyright © 2014 The Curators of the University of Missouri | DMCA | all rights reserved
An equal opportunity/affirmative action institution

Museum of Art and Archaeology | College of Arts and Science | University of Missouri
1 Pickard Hall | Columbia, MO 65211-1420 | phone: 573-882-3591 | fax: 573-884-4039 | Email the museum
AAM logoaccredited by the American Association of Museums

Attention:
The Museum is currently closed and moving to Mizzou North. Please continue to check our website for updates and the openings of galleries.