Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Margery Kempe

signature image

Judy Chicago (American, b. 1939). The Dinner Party (Heritage Floor; detail), 1974–79. Porcelain with rainbow and gold luster, 48 x 48 x 48 ft. (14.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 m). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. Photograph by Jook Leung Photography

Margery Kempe
b. circa 1373, Bishop's Lynn, Norfolk, England; d. after 1438, England

Married to a brewer at the age of twenty, Margery Kempe suffered acute depression after the birth of her son. A healing vision of Christ marked the beginning of her transformation to a life of spirituality. She made religious pilgrimages to holy sites all over Europe and Asia, which she recorded in The Book of Margery Kempe (1438). A mystic given to visions and eccentric behavior, she was arrested several times and charged with heresy but, upon examination by ecclesiastical authorities, found to be orthodox. Her book is an important document of middle-class female consciousness in the medieval period, and revealing of the tensions between religious institutions and dissenters. It was lost until 1934, when it was discovered in a private collection.

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