The Material Renaissance

Edited by Michelle O'Malley and Evelyn Welch

The Material Renaissance

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8125-5
  • Pages: 328
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: June 2010
  • BIC Category: Art History, Gender studies, gender groups, European history: Renaissance, HISTORY / Renaissance, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: transsexuals & hermaphroditism
  • Series: Studies in Design and Material Culture


Despite the recent interests of economic and art historians in the workings of the market, we still know remarkably little about the everyday context for the exchange of objects and the meaning of demand in the lives of individuals in the Renaissance. Nor do we have much sense of the relationship between the creation and purchase of works of art and the production, buying and selling of other types of objects in Italy in the period.

The material Renaissance addresses these issues of economic and social life. It develops the analysis of demand, supply and exchange first proposed by Richard Goldthwaite in his ground-breaking Wealth and the demand for art in Renaissance Italy, and expands our understanding of the particularities of exchange in this consumer-led period. Considering food, clothing and every-day furnishings, as well as books, goldsmiths' work, altarpieces and other luxury goods, the book draws on contemporary archival material to explore pricing, to investigate production from the point of view of demand, and to look at networks of exchange that relied not only on money but also on credit, payment in kind and gift giving.

The material Renaissance establishes the dynamic social character of exchange. It demonstrates that the cost of goods, including the price of the most basic items, was largely contingent upon on the relationship between buyer and seller, shows that communities actively sought new goods and novel means of production long before Colbert encouraged such industrial enterprise in France and reveals the wide ownership of objects, even among the economically disadvantaged.


Michelle O'Malley is Director of Research in the School of Humanities at the University of Sussex. Evelyn Welch is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London


List of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
Notes on currencies and measurements
Preface and acknowledgements
1. Consuming problems: Worldly goods in Renaissance Venice - Patricia Allerston
2. Republican anxiety and courtly confidence: The politics of magnificence and fifteenth-century Italian architecture - Rupert Shepherd
3. Making money: Pricing and payments in Renaissance Italy - Evelyn Welch
4. The social world of price formation: Prices and consumption in sixteenth-century Ferrara - Guido Guerzoni
5. Perugino and the contingency of value - Michelle O'Malley
6. States and crafts: Relocating technical skills in Renaissance Italy - Luca Mola
7. Diversity and design in the Florentine tailoring trade, 1550-1620 - Elizabeth Currie
8. Art and the table in sixteenth-century Mantua: Feeding the demand for innovative design -Valerie Taylor
9. The illuminated manuscript as a commodity: Production, consumption and the cartolaio's role in fifteenth-century Italy - Anna Melograni
10. Credit and credibility: used goods and social relations in sixteenth-century Florence - Ann Matchette
11. The innkeeper's goods: The use and acquisition of household property in sixteenth-century Siena - Paola Hohti
12. Coins, cloaks and candlesticks: The economics of extravagance - Mary Hollingsworth

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