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Luxury Arts of the Renaissance

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Today we associate Renaissance arts with painting, sculpture, and architecture. Yet gem-studded goldwork and richly embellished armor; splendid tapestries, embroideries, and textiles; ephemeral multimedia spectacles; and other opulent creations were consistently more celebrated by contemporaries. Thus, Isabella d'Este, Marchesa of Mantua, bequeathed to her children vases Today we associate Renaissance arts with painting, sculpture, and architecture. Yet gem-studded goldwork and richly embellished armor; splendid tapestries, embroideries, and textiles; ephemeral multimedia spectacles; and other opulent creations were consistently more celebrated by contemporaries. Thus, Isabella d'Este, Marchesa of Mantua, bequeathed to her children vases of semiprecious stones mounted in gold, engraved gems, ivories, antique bronzes, and marbles. Her favorite ladies-in-waiting, by contrast, received mere paintings! This distribution underscores Renaissance aesthetic preferences and cultural values: finely-wrought luxury artifacts were extolled for their exquisite craftsmanship and the symbolic capital of their components, while paintings and sculptures in modest materials were considered of lesser consequence. Luxury Arts of the Renaissance endeavors to return to the mainstream materials long overlooked due to historical and ideological biases. The author traces luxury arts from their status as markers of ascendancy and discernment in the Renaissance to their subsequent marginalization as extravagant trinkets unworthy of the status of art. By re-examining the objects themselves and their uses in their day, Belozerskaya demonstrates how sumptuous creations constructed both the world and taste of Renaissance elites. Without these art forms the study of Renaissance arts is impoverished and history misrepresented.


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Today we associate Renaissance arts with painting, sculpture, and architecture. Yet gem-studded goldwork and richly embellished armor; splendid tapestries, embroideries, and textiles; ephemeral multimedia spectacles; and other opulent creations were consistently more celebrated by contemporaries. Thus, Isabella d'Este, Marchesa of Mantua, bequeathed to her children vases Today we associate Renaissance arts with painting, sculpture, and architecture. Yet gem-studded goldwork and richly embellished armor; splendid tapestries, embroideries, and textiles; ephemeral multimedia spectacles; and other opulent creations were consistently more celebrated by contemporaries. Thus, Isabella d'Este, Marchesa of Mantua, bequeathed to her children vases of semiprecious stones mounted in gold, engraved gems, ivories, antique bronzes, and marbles. Her favorite ladies-in-waiting, by contrast, received mere paintings! This distribution underscores Renaissance aesthetic preferences and cultural values: finely-wrought luxury artifacts were extolled for their exquisite craftsmanship and the symbolic capital of their components, while paintings and sculptures in modest materials were considered of lesser consequence. Luxury Arts of the Renaissance endeavors to return to the mainstream materials long overlooked due to historical and ideological biases. The author traces luxury arts from their status as markers of ascendancy and discernment in the Renaissance to their subsequent marginalization as extravagant trinkets unworthy of the status of art. By re-examining the objects themselves and their uses in their day, Belozerskaya demonstrates how sumptuous creations constructed both the world and taste of Renaissance elites. Without these art forms the study of Renaissance arts is impoverished and history misrepresented.

27 review for Luxury Arts of the Renaissance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Forrest

    One of the first discoveries I made as an undergraduate Bachelor of Humanities student is that there isn't enough time in the world to learn everything you would want to learn about art. So, for three years I soaked up as much as I could, studying painting technique, critiquing cinema, memorizing music pieces, learning a bit about dance and a lot about history and the philosophy of aesthetics. One thing I did not learn was that, despite our modern focus on Renaissance painting and sculpture, One of the first discoveries I made as an undergraduate Bachelor of Humanities student is that there isn't enough time in the world to learn everything you would want to learn about art. So, for three years I soaked up as much as I could, studying painting technique, critiquing cinema, memorizing music pieces, learning a bit about dance and a lot about history and the philosophy of aesthetics. One thing I did not learn was that, despite our modern focus on Renaissance painting and sculpture, those who lived at that time considered these "high arts" to be . . . well, not so high as we think of them. While no one can discount the marvel of innovation that Renaissance sculptors and painters brought into the world of art, Belozerskaya argues that, for those contemporary with the art that was being produced, painting and sculpture played second fiddle in the royal courts. One could easily guess that precious metals and precious stones were valued highly by the nobility for their portability and their ability to maintain worth over time. What might not be so obvious is the high esteem in which tapestry, decorated armor, and music (written, sung, played, or even danced to) were held. Belozerskaya uses a series of contemporary sources to prove the thesis and does so convincingly. One of the more intriguing uses of evidence is the use of Charles Le Brun's tapestry Visit of Louis XIV to the Gobelins Workshope, 15 October 1667, which shows nothing other than Louis XIV shopping for tapestries at said workshop. A brilliant bit of meta-advertising on the part of the Gobelins workshop, no? The book itself is a bit of luxury. It is illustrated throughout with beautiful color photos of tapestries, etched armor, automata, serving vessels, and even a bejeweled crystal marten head, which was ostensibly attached to a fur and worn to special occasions. PETA would not have survived long in the Renaissance. And what is the point of all of this spectacle? It is to stun the senses of both subject and foreign dignitary alike, to impress upon the mind that whatever noble is enveloping you in this carnival of earthly delights is powerful enough to ensure stability and shelter from whatever vicissitudes might present themselves. "Don't worry," the possessor of these wonders seems to say, "you are in good hands. You're safe with me". In perfect academic fashion, Belozerskaya leaves her thesis for the end, though it would have been nice to know at the very beginning of the book. So here you are: "Single objects preserved in museums today, be they tapestries or gold statuettes, suits of armor or illustrated books, cannot bring back to life the richly textured procession of kings, courtiers, and citizens decked out in their finery, slowly moving through streets noisy with excited crowds, the sounds of trumpets, and the ringing voices of actors . . . The sensory overload brought on by overlapping layers of luxury creations was part of the alchemy that marked the realm of the great and distinguished momentous events from mundane routines.” Ironically, this sumptuous feast for the eyes and mind can be yours for absolutely free as a google book. Google: building democracy one book at a time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lauryn

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kerttu

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arumfaerie

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nina Kole

  10. 5 out of 5

    ketna

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

  12. 4 out of 5

    Osiris Oliphant

  13. 5 out of 5

    Skiboltskie

  14. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vlad Golovach

  16. 4 out of 5

    Terri

  17. 5 out of 5

    katherine

  18. 5 out of 5

    Atmospheric Eric

  19. 4 out of 5

    Judaskgb

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate Mallow

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Angélico

  22. 5 out of 5

    Yuhun Şuhan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dеnnis

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  25. 4 out of 5

    saturnine

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wikimedia Italia

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jun

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