Marina Belozerskaya, Luxury Arts of the Renaissance

Marina Belozerskaya, Luxury Arts of the Renaissance
Today we associate the Renaissance with painting, sculpture, and architecture—the “major” arts. Yet contemporaries often held the “minor” arts—gem-studded goldwork, richly embellished armor, splendid tapestries and embroideries, music, and ephemeral multi-media spectacles—in much higher esteem. Isabella d’Este, Marchesa of Mantua, was typical of the Italian nobility: she bequeathed to her children precious stone vases mounted in gold, engraved gems, ivories, and antique bronzes and marbles; her favorite ladies-in-waiting, by contrast, received mere paintings. Renaissance patrons and observers extolled finely wrought luxury artifacts for their exquisite craftsmanship and the symbolic capital of their components; paintings and sculptures in modest materials, although discussed by some literati, were of lesser consequence.
This book endeavors to return to the mainstream material long marginalized as a result of historical and ideological biases of the intervening centuries. The author analyzes how luxury arts went from being lofty markers of ascendancy and discernment in the Renaissance to being dismissed as “decorative” or “minor” arts—extravagant trinkets of the rich unworthy of the status of Art. Then, by re-examining the objects themselves and their uses in their day, she shows how sumptuous creations constructed the world and taste of Renaissance women and men.
I: The Demise of Luxury Arts
Rank, not Genius
Art Academy as Social Strategy
Vasari’s Imaginary Lives
“Art and Nature Play with One Another”
The Eighteenth Century: A Turning Point or Continuity?
The Age of Public Museums in Art Education
Back to the “Period Eye”
II: The Powers of Gold and Precious Stones
The Spiritual Aura of Gold and Gems
The Magical Powers of Metals and Gems
Geography and Learning
Goldwork and Diplomacy
Gold, Automata, and the Culture of Wonder
The Royal Table
The Language of Personal Adornment
III: Woven Narrative of Rule
Princely Art par Excellence
The Language of Allegories
Tapestries as Gifts and Competition
Tapestries for Social Climbing
Making and Marketing
IV: Armor: The High Art of War
The Ubiquity of War, the Practicality of Armor
Chivalric Displays
Parade Armor: The Theater of Supremacy
Leading Armorers of the Day
Production and Techniques
V: Sweet Voices and Fanfares
Sacred Polyphony
Secular Songs
Instrumental Music
Court Festivities and Music
VI: The Seduction of All Senses
The Wedding of the Century
The Ephemeral War
Civic Pride and Private Ostentation
The Final Journey and Perpetual Memory
Marina Belozerskaya received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She is the author of several articles and books, including Rethinking the Renaissance: Burgundian Arts across Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Ancient Greece: Art, Architecture, and History, with Kenneth Lapatin (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004).

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