Art and Love in Renaissance Italy

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Overview

With contributions by Sarah Cartwright, Jessie McNab, J. Kenneth Moore, Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Wendy Thompson, and Jeremy Warren

Many famous Italian Renaissance artworks were made to celebrate love and marriage. They were the pinnacles of a tradition---dating from the early Renaissance---of commemorating betrothal, marriage, and the birth of a child by commissioning extraordinary objects or exchanging them as gifts. This important volume is the first to examine the entire range of works to which Renaissance rituals of love and marriage gave rise and makes a major contribution to our understanding of Renaissance art in its broader cultural context. Some 140 works of art, dating from about 1400 to 1600, are discussed by a distinguished group of scholars and are reproduced in full color.

Marriage and childbirth gifts are the point of departure. These range from maiolica, glassware, and jewelry to birth trays, musical instruments, and nuptial portraits. Bonds of love of another sort were represented in erotic drawings and prints. From these precedents, an increasingly inventive approach to subjects of love and marriage culminated in paintings by some of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, including Giulio Romano, Lorenzo Lotto, and Titian.

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Editorial Reviews

College Art Association

Selected as a finalist for the 2010 Alfred H. Barr Jr., Award given by the College Art Association

— Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award

Renaissance Quarterly

"A major contribution to our understanding of Renaissance art in its broader culturual context. . . . Highly informative, bringing together a wide range of objects and images as a way to better understand the ritual of love and family life in all stages and those involved in them. . . . A must-have for anyone interested in Renaissance art and private life."—Katherine A. McIver, Renaissance Quarterly

— Katherine A. McIver

College Art Association - Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award

Selected as a finalist for the 2010 Alfred H. Barr Jr., Award given by the College Art Association
Renaissance Quarterly - Katherine A. McIver

"A major contribution to our understanding of Renaissance art in its broader culturual context. . . . Highly informative, bringing together a wide range of objects and images as a way to better understand the ritual of love and family life in all stages and those involved in them. . . . A must-have for anyone interested in Renaissance art and private life."—Katherine A. McIver, Renaissance Quarterly
Library Journal

A delightfully bawdy romp as well as a thorough exploration of the iconography, this exhibition catalog proffers passion, romance, and solid study as it considers matrimony in Renaissance Italy. Before the Council of Trent systematized marriage vows in 1563, any number of traditions could be considered a betrothal. The catalog's illustrations (75 black-and-white and 300 color) feature a wide variety of art and artifacts, such as combs, girdles, rings, glassware, majolica, spindle whorls, coffers, needlework cases, birthing trays, and commemorative plates, facilitating discussion of the societal, economic, and emotional ramifications of marriage in Renaissance Italy. Some items put a public face on the couple and resulting family; others give a glimpse into the private repercussions of joining together as one. Some of the pieces represent more famous marriages, such as the Sforzas and Medicis, done by the likes of Titian and other big names. The themes are complex and varied owing to disparate contemporary thought on the subject of love, and Bayer (curator, European paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art) illustrates them nicely on a continuum from personal to mythic. Highly recommended for libraries specializing in art and art history.
—Nadine Dalton Speidel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300124118
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 516,858
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Bayer is Curator in the Department of European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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  • Posted November 23, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Art and Love in Renaissance Italy

    Having recently co-authored a novel that focuses on art and love in Renaissance Italy, and on the intimate lives of the women who lived in it, I was delighted to see the magnificent catalogue published to accompany the Metropolitan Museum exhibition on Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. Lavishly illustrated with works in a variety of media, from painting to ceramic vessels to wooden birth trays, the catalogue offers proof of the importance of artwork in the daily life of Renaissance society. The well-written and detailed essays discuss the place of imagery in all stages of Renaissance marriage, from courtship, to engagement, to childbirth. Along with the pageantry and celebration that accompanied these events for the well-to-do, came a dazzling array of jewelry, portraits, and costume, as well as specific functional but gorgeously decorated items such as cassone (marriage chests), bowls for washing the newborn, engagement rings for the anellamento, and dishware for new mothers. Drawing on mythology, religious imagery and the specific iconography of Renaissance Italy, the works depicted in the exhibit and painstakingly researched in the catalogue essays offer a window into the intimate lives of the patrons who commissioned and displayed them. For those whose curiosity about the love life and childbirth practices of Renaissance Italy are not fully sated by the exhibit, I strongly recommend The Miracles of Prato (William Morrow), forthcoming this January. The novel features just the kind of objects displayed in the exhibit, and follows the life of Fra Filippo Lippi, whose Portrait of a Woman and Man at a Casement Window is truly one of the highlights of the show.

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