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Adultery and the Gaze: A Reading of Lucrezia Tornabuoni’s Story of Devout Susanna (La istoria della casta Susanna)

Francesca Maria Gabrielli

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str. 71-89

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The crucial knot of Lucrezia Tornabuoni’s Story of Devout Susanna (La istoria della
casta Susanna) is the narrative insistence on the reifying eff ects of a gaze gendered
as male: Susanna is, as in the apocryphal/deuterocanonical account, represented as
an object of voyeurism. It is my aim to show the subtle ways in which Tornabuoni’s
depiction of Susanna embraces a series of allusions to other female fi gures such as
Dante’s Matelda, Beatrice and Proserpina (Pg XXVIII, XXX, XXXI), Petrarch’s Laura
and Danaë (RVF 126, 23). Carrying the plurivocal traces of other women represented
as visual objects, Tornabuoni’s reinterpretation of the biblical heroine suggests how
the objectifying eff ects of the male gaze can slide from exaltation to abasement, from
love to rape. After having evoked the equally detrimental repercussions of the female
gaze when it reproduces the logic of domination (Medusa), the sacred narrative seems
to open up, in its fi nal part, to another account of an allegedly adulterous woman (Jn,
7.53-8.11). By means of this intertextual inclusion the verbal texture of Tornabuoni’s
Susanna operates to endow the female protagonist with a Christlike visual stance, one
that holds the potential to subvert and transcend the dominance-submission dynamic.

Ključne riječi

Lucrezia Tornabuoni, Susanna, male gaze, female gaze, patriarchal logic of domination

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