Armstrong (Lives and Legends of the Saints, 1995, etc.) continues her felicitous union of celebrated paintings with stories from the religious tradition, this time relating the achievements of a series of women in brief, biographical sketches and presenting their portraits by medieval, Renaissance, or 17-century artists from Cranach to Rogier van der Weyden. This handsome volume brings to life the actions of women in arenas as seemingly disparate as the domestic and the international, the traditionally nurturant and the politically (and so ruthlessly) expedient. Of the 22 women featured, 13 are from the Old Testament (Eve, Hagar, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, Deborah, Delilah, Ruth, Naomi, Abigail, Bathsheba, Esther), 2 are from the Apocrypha (Judith, Susanna), and 7 are from the New Testament (Elisabeth, the Virgin Macy, Herodias, Salome, Lazarus's Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene). A paragraph of critical appreciation of the painting--appearing in high-quality reproduction--concludes the text of every spread; succinct bibliographic information appears in a final pictorial index. The book will entice both students of religion and of art history to further study, yet it stands so sturdily on its own as a satisfying survey that it's difficult to conceive of the forum in which it would not be welcome.