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Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court
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    Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court
    • Online ISBN: 9781108681155
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Book description

In this book, Leah R. Clark examines collecting practices across the Italian Renaissance court, exploring the circulation, exchange, collection, and display of objects. Rather than focusing on patronage strategies or the political power of individual collectors, she uses the objects themselves to elucidate the dynamic relationships formed through their exchange. Her study brings forward the mechanisms that structured relations within the court, and most importantly, also with individuals, representations, and spaces outside the court. The volume examines the courts of Italy through the wide variety of objects - statues, paintings, jewellery, furniture, and heraldry - that were valued for their subject matter, material forms, histories, and social functions. As Clark shows, the late fifteenth-century Italian court an be located not only in the body of the prince, but also in the objects that constituted symbolic practices, initiated political dialogues, caused rifts, created memories, and formed associations.


'Clark shows that diplomatic, economic and dynastic links between fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance elites were sustained by the circulation of art objects: not just traditional paintings and sculptures, but objects of symbolic and material value as heraldic collars, jewels, furniture, and textiles. In their circulation as gifts between influence-brokers and powerful individuals, these prestige commodities acquire social and cultural biographies and sustain layers of complex interpretation that have a crucial bearing on the selfhood and agency of their owners. Clark’s indispensable new study is especially to be welcomed for its attention to the court of Naples, neglected in anglophone scholarship, and here shown to be crucial to the statecraft of Ferrara and Florence.​'

Stephen Campbell - The Johns Hopkins University

'In this illuminating book, Leah R. Clark shows that objects in princely collections did much more than reflect the magnificence of the ruler. Works of art in whatever media - including books, textiles, medals and gems as well as paintings and sculpture - interacted with each other in complex webs of intertextuality. As the fascinating case-studies indicate, the meaning of objects was inherently unstable. When given away, borrowed, bought, or pawned, they acquired shifting cultural dimensions. Their value was continually renegotiated through diplomacy, social display, or private study and contemplation, while their significance depended just as much on their dialogues with each other, and with their owners, as on their individual appearance, subject matter, materials and workmanship. This perceptive reinterpretation casts new light on the dynamics of court culture in the Italian Renaissance.'

Deborah Howard - Professor Emerita of Architectural History, University of Cambridge

'Collecting Art in the Italian Renaissance Court: Objects and Exchange offers both scholars and students of art history an invaluable insight into the complex web of connections facilitated by a range of objects in Early Modern Italy - it is essential reading for anyone interested in the narratives built around art objects.'

Marika Leino - Oxford Brookes University

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