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Seminar 06

Objects and Material Culture


Seminar questions

  1. How were objects used to define social status in the early modern period?


  1. Was the growing consumption of luxury goods in the Renaissance the beginning of modern consumerism?


  1. What was different in the consumption of luxury objects between northern and southern Europe?


  1. Was sumptuary legislation successful in its attempt to curb social mobility?


  1. Did technical innovations respond to the growing demand for arts among early modern Europeans or did they cause it?



Suggested reading

Appadurai, Arjun (ed), The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge 1986 [HK 10.S6]


Ajmar, Marta (ed), Approaches to Renaissance Consumption, special issue of Journal of Design History, 15 (2002) [Arts Periodicals]


Belozerskaya, Marina, Luxury Arts of the Renaissance, Los Angeles, Getty Museum, 2005


Clark, Graham, Symbols of Excellence. Precious Materials as Expression of Status, Cambridge 1986 [GT 2250.C5]


Findlen, Paula, ‘Possessing the Past: the Material World of the Italian Renaissance’, American Historical Review, 103 (1998), pp. 83-114 [Jstor]


Fortini Brown, Patricia, Behind the Walls: The Material Culture of Venetian Elites, in Venice Reconsidered. The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297-1797, ed. by John Martin and Dennis Romano, Baltimore-London 2000, pp. 295-338 [DG 676.3.V3]


Fortini Brown, Patricia, Private Lives in Renaissance Venice: Art, Architecture and the Family, New Haven-London 2004 [NK 1452.B7]


Fox, Robert – Turner, Anthony (eds), Luxury Trades and Consumerism in Ancien Régime Paris. Studies in the History of the Skilled Workforce, Aldershot 1998, esp. essays by J. Thirsk, F. Crouzet and G. Lewis [HY 3040.L8]


Gavitt, Philip, ‘An Experimental Culture: the Art of the Economy and the Economy of Art under Cosimo I and Francesco I’, in The Cultural Politics of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici, ed. Konrad Eisenbichler, Ashgate 2001, pp. 205-221 [DG 738.17.CB]


Goldthwaite, Richard A., ‘The Empire of Things: Consumer Demand in Renaissance Italy’, in Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy, a cura di F.W. Kent e P. Simons, Oxford 1987, pp. 155-175 [N 6915.P2]


Goldthwaite Richard A., ‘The Economy of Renaissance Italy: The Preconditions for Luxury Consumption’, I Tatti Studies, 2 (1987), pp. 15-39 [Arts Periodicals]


Goldthwaite, Richard A., ‘The Economic and Social World of Italian Renaissance Maiolica’, in Renaissance Quarterly, 42 (1989), pp. 1-32 [Jstor]


Goldthwaite, Richard A., ‘Artisans and the Economy in Sixteenth-Century Florence’, in The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of Late Renaissance Florence, New Haven-London 2002, pp. 85-93 [N 6921.F7]


Harte, Nigel B., ‘State Control of Dress and Social Change in Preindustrial England’, in Trade, Government and Economy in Pre-Industrial England: Essays Presented to F.J. Fisher, eds. D.C. Coleman and A.H. John, London 1976, pp. 132-165 [HK 113.C6]


Jardine, Lisa, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, London 1996 [CB 361.J2]


Levy Peck, Linda, Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century England, Cambridge 2005


Olson, Roberta J.M. – Reilly, Patricia L. – Shepherd, Rupert (eds), The Biography of the Object in Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, special issue of Renaissance Studies, 19 (2005) [Arts Periodicals]


Owen Hughes, Diane, ‘Sumptuary Law and Social Relations in Renaissance Italy’, in Disputes and Settlements: Law and Human Relations in the West, Cambridge 1983, pp. 69-99 [CB 461.D4]


Snodin, Michael – Styles, John (eds), Design and the Decorative Arts. Britain 1500-1900, London 2001 [NK 750.S6]


Syson, Luke - Thornton, Dora, Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy, London 2001 [N 6915.S9]


Thirsk, Joan, ‘The Fantastical Folly of Fashion; The English Stocking Knitting Industry, 1500-1700’, in Textile History and Economic History. Essays in Honour of Miss Julia de Lacy Mann, ed. N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting, Manchester 1973, pp. 50-73 [HP 1162.H2]


Thornton, Dora, The Scholar in His Study. Ownership and Experience in Renaissance Italy, New Haven-London 1997, chs. 3-4, 6 [NK 2052.T4]


Thornton, Peter, The Italian Renaissance Interior 1400-1600, London 1991 [NK 2052.T4]


Welch, Evelyn, Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400-1600, New Haven-London 2005 [HK 254.W3]