“The Monster, Death, Becomes Pregnant:” Representations of Motherhood in Female Transi Tombs from Renaissance France
As her extruded entrails and burial shroud mount up on the figure’s lower abdomen, the transi sculpture of Jeanne de Bourbon-Vendome joins death to life in an apparent pregnancy. It also joins the non-human to the human, as worms infest her flesh, and the inside to the outside, as the worms and intestines move in and out of her form. Rather than constituting an “other,” however, this sculpture recognizes the everyday monstrosity of pregnancy for early modern women. This reading of the sculpture provides a key for understanding the transis of three successive French queens, Anne of Brittany, Claude of France, and Catherine de Medici each of which refuses such monstrosity in order to emphasize the—often endangered—dynastic continuity of the Valois kings.