2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

The Progression of the Peacock
Amy E. Reynolds
Dr. James Harmon, Faculty Mentor

The peacock, a prominent motif in Medieval art, may seem at first glance no more than a tool for decoration. It cannot be denied that the bird possesses a colorful beauty which makes it ideally suited for decorative purposes. But a deeper look into both the potential symbolism of the peacock and how this unusual bird was regarded during the Middle Ages shows just how appropriate an icon the peacock is, especially in a religious context. These beautiful but largely unstudied birds are an integral part of western Medieval art. Their famed purity, beauty, exoticness, and, curiously, their appetite for snakes have lead to their appearance in funerary art, manuscripts, and architecture, and yet they have hitherto remained one of the least-examined symbols of their era.

Keywords: Peacock, Medieval Art, Symbolism, Salvation Symbolism, Fountain of Life

Topic(s):Art History
Medieval Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 3-1
Location: OP 2210
Time: 8:15

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